August 16, 2010

The Teacher's Lounge(s)

It's funny, but I really don't remember being aware of a teacher's lounge at the elementary school where I attended first through fifth grade. I'm sure they had one, what school doesn't, but although I can mentally walk through the halls of that school today, remembering every classroom and closet, I have no idea where the teacher's lounge is. I suppose that's the way it's supposed to be. I mean,w ho wants the kids to know where the teacher are hiding? Right?

When I was student teaching, the lounge was a cramped little room in the basement of the school, and was pretty typical I think, of the species. Cast off couches, old microwaves, icky beige fridge - that sort of thing. But I don't remember it being so horrible that no one went in there. In fact, there was almost always someone hanging around in there. It was also the copy room, so that might be part of it, but still, it wasn't too awful. So I was surprised when one of the teachers at Briton's school said that every time she went into the lounge, all she could think of was getting out. How sad is that? And really, they were pretty bad. One was hot, cramped and full of broken furniture that you couldn't really sit down on without lurching forward. The other smelled of bathroom cleaner and damp. So the PTO budgeted some money for a little re-do and the project ended up in my lap.

I seem to have a standard thought process for these kinds of projects. First I'm gung-ho. I think about it constantly for a while, planning, plotting, arranging. Then I sort of push it to the back of my mind, knowing there's time to do it later, even when, really, there isn't. When it comes down to it I start panicking a little, drive Will crazy and tend not to sleep worrying that I wont get it done, then I work like a mad woman, cursing my way through the project, wondering why I get myself into these things. And then when it's done, I'm so happy I did it. I forget all about the stress and the work and the driving here and there to get all the things that I need. I forget so well that I'm almost immediately ready to dive in again. What's up with that? It's like what they say about forgetting the pain of childbirth. Although, frankly, it took me more than three years to get over the pain of childbirth with Briton, which is why my kids are four years apart. I'm much more likely to forget the stress of a big project than the pain of having a baby.

Friday was my deadline for getting the lounges done, I started Thursday. To be fair, it wasn't all my fault. It is summer, after all. People were out of town, days were lazy, and every time I went down to the school to figure out when I could start and what I needed to do, they were waxing the floors somewhere and I couldn't go down any halls. Oh well, it's always good to work under a little pressure, right?

I did manage, during various trips to the school, to haul home some furniture that needed a face lift and was able to get started on those, and then on Thursday morning, bright and early, a friend and I painted. And painted. And painted. And the Friday morning I went in and painted some more. Paint is always a little nerve wracking for me. It's hard enough to choose paint that you like yourself, but choosing for 70 people, ugg. But anything would have been better than old yellowing paint with teal trim.

But by the end of the day, things were pretty much done, the new (used but much better) couches had been picked up and delivered, Evelyn and I had driven across town with a table strapped to the roof of our poor overworked Passat and the repainted furniture was back in the room. And you know what? It looks pretty good. Not fantastic, fabulous, wonderful, but much better. I still want to get some more art on the walls, but between the paint and the rearranging and the new and refurbished furniture, I think, I hope, that the teachers will find the two rooms a little more welcoming. Fingers crossed.