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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Dumont

The Gift of Time

When we get student teachers in at school, we always smile and appreciate their comments on the workload. When the 3rd year student teachers spend their 5 weeks with us, teaching about 50% of a full time teachers schedule, and comment about how crazy busy they feel, us veteran teachers can empathize. And when the 4th year student teachers tell us how much more work their 9 week placement was teaching 80% of a teacher’s assignment than their last student teaching experience, again we empathize. Experienced teachers all know that student teaching is just a small sample of just how massive the workload is for a full time teacher is throughout the school year. Student teaching is like running a 10K race when the full time teacher runs a marathon - it’s a massive undertaking. But the truth is that until you experience it, it is really hard to describe. Everyone thinks they work hard, but if you are doing the job right, teaching is one of the busiest professions out there. It is confirmed when someone becomes a teacher after working in another field and tell us that they knew it was lots of work, but not this much work!!! All that being said, teachers do what they do because they love kids and they want to make a difference, and being a teacher is the best place to do that! However, In order to make it through the marathon of a school year, we need the summer break to recuperate and rejuvenate! Thank goodness for summer holidays!

My summer started off with a bang - I got sick! This is typical for teachers when their body finally relaxes after the end of June and then they catch a cold. I also spent the first few days doing summer school, and wrapping up an amazing but challenging school year. Then my holiday break began with my lovely wife (also a teacher) and my kids. We have been doing random tasks, playing, cleaning, playing, riding bikes, playing, reading, playing, and getting ready for our annual summer road trip (#dumontroadtrip2019). With having some unstructured time on our hands we have all had a little time to let our minds wander and wonder. My wife has been looking at acreages, working out, organizing things in the house and enjoying some summer reading. The kids have been busy making a fort in the bark yard, building a rope swing, catching bugs and slugs, planning a squirrel wedding, setting up a Legoland when it was raining, reading books, going to the park, riding bikes and asking lots of questions about things! It is very interesting to see how the girls make use of their time, build a closer friendship and learn more about themselves and the world around them. Arely has managed to hook a wagon to her bike so she can pull along her stuffies - her play is always preparing her for parenthood, when she will one day pull her own tots in a bike stroller. Adelynn made wedding invitations for the two squirrels in our backyard, and has set up her stuffies to be in the wedding party. If Adelynn grows up to be a wedding planner, I will be referencing this blog post!! (Just when I thought I had a summer free of weddings, the back yard rodents had to get romantic, sheesh.) It has been so good to just be… and see where our imaginations and dreams may take us.

For me, I have been loving the time to play with the kids and to also relax and recover from my cold! It has been a chance for me to wonder about things too. Taking time to wonder is so good for me and I dont think that I do it enough. It is where my ideas come from and where I make deeper connections about my experiences, plus it helps me be more creative. I think this may be true for all of us really - the gift of time is important to a healthy mind!! I worry that for many of us, the opportunities to let our minds wander seems to be getting fewer and farther apart. People today are so busy with work and other responsibilities, plus we lose opportunities to enjoy our time in large part thanks to technology. It seems that whenever people have an opportunity to relax and think and observe, they grab their phone and their gaze moves to the screen. They start their scrolling habits through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or whatever social media and texting apps they use and turn their attention to their cyber world. Although people may feel some connection through their social media apps, the downside of that is that they lose the opportunity to just think! I am guilty of this too, but I aware of how important it is to unplug and let my brain do some relaxing, some thinking, and some connecting!!

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I am appreciating the gift of time more and more. One thing that I am conscious of doing when I am with my kids is whenever I take some time to check my emails, respond to messages or post something in social media, I then make sure I spend the same amount of time at least playing with them. I feel that when I am hanging out on the park bench or by the pool and the kids are playing and I am on my phone, I need to get off it as quick as I can and then engage with my children. They need me to connect with them and it is always best when it is in their world and on their terms. I generally break a rule or do something a little off in the game, but it is all good because they love to correct me! I know that I am role modelling for them as future parents too, and I hope they remember Kalay and I spending time with them, engaging them, teasing them, playing with them and connecting with them - trying to make the most we can out of each moment. Because at the end of the day, each of these moments are gifts, and it is my job to not take them for granted. I know that not everyone is as fortunate as I am to have this time to spend connecting, wandering, wondering and relaxing and thinking about my world, and I am extremely appreciative for this amazing gift!

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