It happens every year. For the students it hits the second week of May. I’m able to hold off the contagion until the third week, and then my brain falls victim of a fatigue that makes no sense at all. People call it, “The End of the Year Tired.”
This tired that seemed to come out of nowhere, hit like a tornado. One day, I was on top of the world. The next, I lived to make it home to take a nap. We’re talking a two hour nap, and then going to bed at 8:30.
Every hour, the kids in my reading classes complained. “Why are you making us work?” I should have had a warning label: Even if you’re tired, the teacher will make you work. However, I understood their distress, because I was just as tired. To relieve the tension, I busted out pretzels, or suckers, and we snacked while we read. Other times, I started the day with a silly game that got us laughing before the lesson. I also used this time of the year to introduce a story I hadn’t read. Too tired to learn time, is my chance to show authentic enthusiasm for reading. We argued over predictions, declared the character clever or mistaken, and postulated on what we would have done if we were in the character’s position. They were reading and didn’t know it. So the score was Fatigue: zero; Reading teacher: ten million. I got ten million when one of the kids busted me reading ahead and gave me the no, no, no finger wag. From that point on they had a scout to make sure I didn’t cheat. Take that end of the year tired.
And, Let me tell you, the library was prime real estate. This year I added a couch with comfortable chairs in the high school library to give the library a coffee house vibe. It kind of worked. Sometimes, the kids forgot they were supposed to read books and wanted to talk sans the coffee. But not this time. Kids hustled to get their schoolwork done for a free twenty minutes to snooze. For three weeks, I did not have to use the librarian “shhh.” Not going to lie. It was nice.
Personally, I didn’t mind the tired. After twenty years of being in education, it is a given. But this year, I had things to do. Blogs weren’t going to write themselves. I took a survey from my reader group. I’m sure they wanted to know the consensus of the responses. But, my mind moved like a bike chain without the WD-40. It was getting me places, but the process was painful and not so attractive.
Before all this happened. I woke up to the sound of my voice telling me a story. When I was lucky, I heard the soundtrack to the story in the background. For five weeks, my mind screamed one thing, “My back hurts.” I’ve had a constant backache for years. All of a sudden, it decided to take over the cognitive system? I was distressed. Nobody wants to read a blog about the crazy things I was trying to do to make a backache shut up. Worse, I had to push out the launch of the last book in a series. I thought I liked the book, but what if my tired mind was playing tricks on me?
Then small signs proved the halt to be a good thing. First, my character’s name was Brock Turner. Turner is a common name here, and I wanted to give kudos to my home. It turned out, that would have been bad. Really, really bad. In light of recent legislation in Alabama and Georgia, the name Brock Turner was brought back into the spotlight. It turned out Brock Turner was the Stanford rapist. I had time to correct the name to one that was less triggering. Note to self: from now on, Google your character names.
When my impatient mind couldn’t wait any longer, I turned to my Facebook group. They found twenty-three typos! (Sorry about that, friends.) And, they loved the story. (Aw, thanks. Insert heart emoji) But, I was still too tired to write the newsletter, post countdowns with story excerpts, or create the memes. They were things I loved to do, but when I sat down to do it, my mind when blank.
Then it happened. I woke this morning to hear my voice talking to you (yes, you reader) about why it liked the last book I read. My back was stunned silent. The first thing I did when I woke was to write this blog.
During this inconvenient hiatus, I learned a several things. When I made peace with the haze that coated my thoughts, the answers settled into something tangible. I also learned to trust my gut. I had been talking about Brock for months. Nobody caught the name similarity. The most important thing I learned is asking for help is not a weakness. It establishes trust in your community. The members of my small group live around the world, but it felt like walking next door and asking for a cup of sugar so I could bake cookies for all of us.
So dear reader, if you’re tired: take a nap when you can; be patient with yourself; and ask for help. It may not seem like it in the middle of the fog, but this too will pass.
I close wishing you refreshing rest, yummy summer beverages, and moments that you’ll cherish in the years to come.