Five days of Spirit Week, 120 screaming junior higher, 30 girls at vball tryouts, 11 making the team, a dozen rounds of Theraflu, and seventy billion cups of tea and cough drops later, my battle with influenza or malaria or whatever I have still rages within. But I’m at home, on the couch, living in my bathrobe, watching every musical I own on DVD. Right now I have “I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair” stuck in my head. South Pacific. Bit of a yawn really. I fell asleep a few times.

You know the kind of sick where you’re not exactly sure what to label it, but when someone rubs your back or gives you a hug, all your muscles feel so achy and you realize how weak you are, that tears start rising up? That was me all day. Verge of tears, verge of meltdown, a little snappy all day. And I hate when I lose my patience on my students, or worse, with a parent or fellow teacher. That makes me feel weak.

And it was Spirit Week, which at my school, is over the top. Actually, everything we do at my school feels like it has to be a huge production;  we can never repeat anything, we are always rehearsed and scheduled and perfect and taking pictures and throwing the best time ever. It can be exhausting. Spirit Week is definitely one of those things, but it is so my kind of thing. I love the theme days (Western, 50s, Fashion Disaster this year!) and the Color Day, because every team has a specific color and on Friday you go head to toe that color. Some kids on my team were soooo red (our color) (red hot baby!) (on fire!) (okay, I’ll stop) that the judges couldn’t even recognize who they were and had to ask for their names! We get to make up cheers and dances and signs, and we have a service project, compete at lunch, and on Friday go all out with crazy obstacle courses and games involving everything from balancing M&Ms on a straw to throwing fish heads and chicken legs at pictures of your teachers. Its totally epic.

Unfortunately, due to volleyball tryouts being this Monday, practices Wednesday and Thursday, being sick since Tuesday, I was really preoccupied, really tired, and so not the leader I could have been for my team, with no voice or energy for the last two days. I really wanted to win this year, and despite scoring a buttload of points during Friday’s game, we came in third or fourth I think. I know its supposed to be student-driven and “who cares who wins” kind of attitude, but man! I’ve been bitter during the week about being sick and not having time to go crazy on spirit week. I love my eighth graders and wanted them to have such a good last Spirit Week before I send those baby birds off to high school.

Bitterness was compounded by kids straight up talking trash to me! Saying things like “How does it feel to be in last place?” to which I replied “If I got hit by a bus tomorrow and those were the last words you ever said to me, how would that make you feel?” which almost made an eighth grade boy cry his facepaint off. I might have taken that one too far… but the one thing I don’t like about Spirit Week is the hostility that seems to grow out of nowhere between teams and the smack talk in the hallways, which, as a young teacher, I get to be on the receiving end of a little too much for my taste.

But once the winner had been announced, and they had cheered and gloated and the rest of us all glared and pouted and demanded a recount of the points (the broken chad! It must have been the chad!) ….five minutes later the whole school was back to being friends again, the teams and the colors of the week already forgotten. Kids were offering me their brownie crumbs, giving me a hand to help me up and hugging and promising to pray that I would get better over the weekend. (7th graders – “we don’t like when you’re sick miss weight…you’re a totally different person and you look terrible.” )

So its Friday night. I am hunkered down for the weekend with a bottomless mug of tea, and a pile as high as an elephant’s eye of things I have neglected to grade this week. In between catnaps, I half-heartedly grade things, watch a musical out of the corner of one eye, and I am remembering the cute outfits and funny cheers everyone put together, the bobbing for Ho-Hos section of the obstacle course, and the fish heads that were throw at a bucket with my face on it.

And one “goodbye” hug in particular from a sweet boy on my team, with curly hair and freckles, smearing his red glitter face paint all over my cheek as we parted. “Best week ever, Miss Weight! We were robbed! We’ll get them next year.”  Maybe not. But. Here’s hoping! Miss Weight’s team all the way in 2012 baby. Go big or go home.

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