I'm Not Going Back to Preschool

As I write this, many of my Glankler friends are enjoying (I hope) the last weekend of their summer vacation. That's because next week the new school year starts. Another ten months of changing dirty diapers, singing children's songs ad nauseam, writing IEPs, and doing weekly push-in large-group speech therapy. The circle of special education preschool life churns on.

But this year is different insofar that I won't be there. For the first time in what feels like forever ago, I won't be alongside my Guppy comrades to partake in the ritualistic beginning-of-the-year activities: staff development workshops, faculty meetings, classroom prep, etc. More importantly, I won't be there for the first day of school, greeting students old and new. It's surreal to think about — and believe me, I've done a lot of thinking on this — how I'm not going to be there. Fremont Unified School District has dominated the majority of my life, be it as a student or as an employee, and it's weird not having to go back for yet another school year. Here it is, the end of August, and I'm not going back.

What the fuck?

By virtue of writing this piece, it's clear to me that I'm still very much in the process of internalizing the vestiges of my former life. After all, I made a successful career out of working for the school district. I had seniority and was a union member. I was (and still am) very well-respected, and made many friendships over the years. The experiences I had working for FUSD playing a huge role in helping me become the person I am today, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Without a doubt, FUSD made an indelible mark on my life.

So while I am finally starting to settle in to my new life as a freelance writer, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still emotionally tied to my old one. In discussing this with my therapist last week, he was quick to remind me that I'm still in the adjustment phase. I've only been officially away for almost 4 months, so it'll take some time to fully put my past behind me. Make no mistake, though: the skills and knowledge and memories of the field are still very much with me.

Adjustment notwithstanding, everything must come to an end eventually, so I do not for one second regret my decision to leave. On the contrary, leaving was perhaps the best thing I could've done for myself. The fulfillment and success I've received from my freelancing thus far is validation that to leave was right, because not only am I good at what I do but I also enjoy it immensely. I'm a firm believer in things happening for a reason, and I think that the trying times leading up to my exit were signs that the timing was right.

There are things I miss and don't miss about school district life. Not working for The Man has proven to be wonderfully liberating. I certainly don't miss subjecting my body to the wear and tear of my old position. I don't miss the screaming, crying kids. I sure as hell don't miss the drama amongst the adults. But I do miss my friends and the kids. (And the Payroll department.) All the more reason for me to go back and visit once in awhile.

Come next week, it'll be strange thinking of all my Glankler friends starting 2013-14 without me. Ask me a year ago if I thought I'd miss it, and I would have said I have a bridge to sell you. Likewise, if you were to also ask me if I weren't sure about pursuing my degree in Early Childhood Studies, I'd offer to sell you a second bridge. (For the record, I do plan to complete my AA, since I'm only a few classes short. But as for long-term plans in the field? Probably not.)

The recurring theme as I've contemplated all this has been this: It's crazy how drastically one's life can change. But mine's changed for the better, and I wish my friends well.

I don't doubt that there'll be gossip galore in the coming months.