Positively exhausted

There’s a scene in Frasier where a teacher is in charge of the school play, and she’s full of encouragement and calming words for her young team. No matter whether the set is falling down or someone’s throwing up, her smiling face and cheerful tones never disappear. Then Frasier appears. As the teacher finishes dealing with another problem – “…and everything will be just fine!” – she turns to Frasier and drops the smile to reveal a tired face wearing a harrassed and almost crazed expression. The honeyed tones gone, she hisses “I am so SICK of being positive!”

I never quite appreciated the humour in that scene until today. I am so tired I actually considered just not going to work this morning. I mean, just not getting out of bed. Burying my head under the blankets and choosing to ignore that it was morning. Not even making up an excuse and phoning in sick – just plain old not showing up. This is partly because I spent all day yesterday looking after 6-year-olds at a theme park in Seoul, and didn’t get back until bed time. I slept like a log all night and somehow woke up even more tired than I had been before.

It’s the end-of-year fatigue. I need a holiday! My batteries are drained down to about 5% of their total life, and – much as I love my job and my kids – only a week off can recharge them.

So anyway, I am good for nothing today, and – somewhat annoyingly – all the children have decided to be perfect little angels. You would think this was a good thing, but can you imagine being the tiredest you have ever been in your life, and then being put into a room of children who are all doing their utmost to earn praise from you? I thought I was going to lose my mind this morning as I walked from desk to desk, checking the sentences they were writing. As tempting as it was to do so in silence, I couldn’t. Exhausted or not, once you see those puppy-dog eyes gazing eagerly up at you in the hope of praise for hard work, it’s impossible to say nothing.

Good job! Wow, what beautiful writing! Excellent work! Well done! You’re doing so well! Perfect! 

Honestly, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I was so tired I was barely functioning and couldn’t quite gauge the appropriate level of encouragement, so – fearful that I wasn’t doing enough – I praised them as if they’d achieved world peace and a cure for cancer, and then gave them all star stickers just in case. I wanted Frasier to walk into the room so I could drop the positivity for just a second, but I held out until lunch time, when I was able to share my feelings of exhaustion with my colleagues. We are all in the same boat.

Dee suddenly sighed for no apparent reason halfway through lunch, and when a few people looked up expectantly, she just opened and closed her mouth a few times, looked helplessly at us, and sighed again. Ara-saw (I understand), I replied. She rubbed her eyes, looking confused by her own state of mind. Only one more week, she said finally. Everyone nodded wearily.

Only one more week.

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