A Teacher’s Family Christmas Letter, by Jeff Goldthorpe

Another family Christmas letter, supposed to show you, show me really, I do have it all

But it’s January 5, 2012, and I can’t finish grading those compositions—

Fell behind my usual end of semester’s behindness,

Caught a cold day after Thanksgiving, never caught up, but not a “Comp-Slave”

I can shop– a little– go to meetings—a meeting– help bake Christmas bread,
Coach son on college application essays, and spend whole day portfolio scoring

Last sad horse loping in at end of race.

Can have a party in reading class w/ hot spaghetti from Carmen’s mom,
Photos that get me “friended” by Peggy Zhang,

So I get to hear what my students eat for Christmas, and who gets sick

Grade the 1A research papers, to return at final exam on

Genome ethics for the 13 students left in the one-time 31 student class

But relief that classes do end! Drive my mom to the doctor for a patch up,
Diana’s mom slows down to anemic crawl

Pick myself up again to proctor more finals, get up and crawl, if not getupandgo

Can’t OCCUPY, too preoccupied with launching

Number one Son into “the one percent”

Learning FAFSA and tax-sheltered annuity
Figure out where to move the paychecks, I mean the debt, to

Spare change? Hippie-hating Son wants to getupandgo

To ivy-covered brick buildings where he will learn

How to say hello, make eye contact, learn to trust, ask for help, when to flush.

Postpone grading the mini-research essays on Diego Rivera’s Pan American Unity mural

Best assignment so far, I do like my job!
Like the papers about mural that makes students unfurl and flap in the breeze,

Taking them by the hand listen to artist, listen to critics, listen to themselves

Makes me want to duck out of important meetings.

Not too much plagiarism. And relief that exams do end!

Not just Comp-Slave! Have new cats, creatures for kids to lavish with love–

Not beaten out of them by High School callousness classes!

Number one Daughter newly inspired

Escapee from Mom’s Home-Schooling Academy

Now enjoying real school, guys copying her answers (Advanced Biology),

Seniors tossing eggs at freshmen, Brother who won’t say hi in the hallway

Screechy brilliant teacher who wants them to learn Beauty of Math—what a weirdo! Now free to lose sleep playing Orchestra zero period,
Free to sit next to boy that made his yogurt stick to the  ceiling in Jazz I,
LOOK she plays BOTH tenor sax and bassoon, Son plays trumpet, Diana plays flute

Fulfilling my old fantasy of living in a house of musicians.

More plagiarism than I thought: ambitious ESL students recording the true knowledge, Ghost writing for athletes, Good Ol’ American cheaters losing faith at last minute,

Just duck it, throw them into the special pile

Throw self into Christmas Revels, bread deliveries, visiting old friends.

Who remind me I’ve gotten through recession—hell, this life! pretty much unscathed
So far

Shocked by Son’s college-age tantrum shaking the house,

Shocked by my own push back,  own rage from where?

Calmed just in time for their Godmother’s Christmas Eve party,

To my brother’s for Christmas Day

This must be what they call a balanced lifestyle.

Next day finish the Diego Rivera papers, then for relaxation score multiple choice exams

Back to English 1A Finals on ethics of pregnancy termination with testing on genetic disorders—Merry Christmas you lucky 13!  Done!  Oh here’s this late paper, that unchecked exercise, those unchecked lab hour documents, that late paper never graded,
Fruit flies of composition buzzing around my rotting cabbage head

Can’t call back Carlos for his thank you on the message machine.

Then calendar says we must visit with Claudia and Bill who wine and dine us

Bill beseeching me to let go– “I’ll stamp them all ‘A’ for you!”

Next day I am copying counting correcting grading adding averaging

Diana shepherding Son through last college applications,  last essays

Happy New Year!  Disco party at Wilma’s, my first in a generation at least

“I’m old but I can still do it!” an ex-lover used to say

Son carousing with buddies, Daughter refuses to go to adult party,

Diana and I rush back home at midnight to ring in new year with her.

New Year’s Day up early to re-read the plagiarism cases: who is misusing sources,

Who is hiring a professional, and who is experiencing an intellectual breakthrough and

When I’ll give up and stamp them all “A.”

Seeking relief, I switch back to the math, counting and averaging

Or read the odd late papers, the problems I pushed off the stack.

High school about to begin again, so family stroll downtown to see Tin Tin

Then back to  copying  counting  sorting

Daughter finally gets her cold,

Son up too late doing vacation homework,

And I am wooing Diana to help me with final grade averaging and judgment calls

Deadline for final grades is here

Christmas cards, thank you notes, family Christmas letters forgotten,  along with

Planning next semester, trimming rose bush, uploading photos, folding laundry,
Having that talk, getting that hair cut.

Can’t have it all TILL grades are done, can’t understand why trash bin is stolen,
Why rain doesn’t fall, why children grow strange, why loved ones die,
Why grades aren’t done, why letters don’t get finished

This entry was posted in Living / Teaching, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Teacher’s Family Christmas Letter, by Jeff Goldthorpe

  1. jgoldtho says:

    To poetry mavens: I deny responsibility here for the line breaks and stanzas, produced by the WordPress.com software, not me. On the other hand, I don’t care that much– don’t consider myself a poet.

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