Ready or not. (Or, the return of the teacher formerly known as Madame Gouthro)

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Ironically, Madame is allergic to apples. But maybe if she gives one a day to the students, the doctor will still stay away.

 

You can never go back. (I know this, and yet I have repeatedly made attempts to do so over the course of my life, never with any good result.) So when I say I am going back to work, well, it doesn’t mean what I think it means. Or what it’s supposed to mean. Or something.

Permission to go back to work. What it really means is permission to attempt to return to some sort of routine. To go back to a familiar place, be surrounded by familiar people, and perform a very familiar job, all as a person with whom I’m not yet really familiar. To leave sick behind, and try to be normal. Or, my favourite, get back to my old self. It means changing my purpose from healing (on a good day) or surviving (on a not-so-good day) to heading a classroom full of spirited, hormone-riddled students and helping them get through this school year and emerge better than they were at the start. These kids very much need for me to be okay. And I will be.

It’s just that when they crowd in for a hug, and say ‘T’es retournée!’ or You’re back!, they don’t necessarily know that it’s not entirely true. The Madame Gouthro they knew is changed. She’s never coming back. There’s a new one, but what’s strange is that I haven’t met her yet. I’ll meet the new Madame when the kids do, and we’ll have to figure it out together.

I practised sitting here today. I found myself holding my breath a lot. Tomorrow, I'll go in and practise breathing at that desk.

I practised sitting here today. I found myself holding my breath a lot. Tomorrow, I’ll go in and practise breathing at that desk.

I have spent time in her space every day this week, and I’ve started to try to make it just the way I think she’d like it. I’ve put out bowls of apples for the students (old Madame did that; they liked it.), cleaned out cupboards and drawers and organized resources for her. I brought a few talismans from home and put them on her desk, because I think she might need a few of these with her in the first few weeks. I’ve tried to choose natural fabrics and calm colours, and I’ve bought her some plants, because I know she’ll want as much green around her as possible. I still have a lot of work to do to get the room ready for her, but it will be done for Tuesday.

I found some great quotes to inspire both her and the students.

I found some great quotes to inspire both her and the students.

 

Twine, burlap and wood. And green. Lots of green.

Twine, burlap and wood. And green. Lots of green.

And then, Wednesday morning, after I leave my house and turn the key in my lock and after I drive to work, after I put my lunch in the fridge, check my mailbox and head upstairs, only when I turn the knob to my classroom and meet all those expectant smiles, will I meet Madame Gouthro.

I think she’ll be okay.

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6 thoughts on “Ready or not. (Or, the return of the teacher formerly known as Madame Gouthro)

  1. My dearest Tanya- You will be you: the same beautiful, brilliant, wonderful, brave individual, so stylish and artistic; yet now a more sobered, wise and life-savvy person with all the attributes that brings to the new you, who is really not new at all- you are simply more… I love you.

  2. I’ve watched you in the classroom for many years Madame … and I know you will get back on that bicycle and ride! You have so much to share – and you sound so ready to be the thoughtful, caring and creative teacher you’ve always been. You’ll sprinkle your days with humour and delight. Your students will love you as always. And you’ll love the new Madame too.

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