If you ask me, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s  is my favorite time of the year.  Now, nevermind all the waxing poetic about the magic of the holidays and family get togethers and reflecting about the turning of the seasons and another year past, because I’m not talking about any of that crap. As I have referred to previously, I spent the better part of a decade as a Teacher and, as any Teacher knows, this part of the year is the Sweet Spot in the calendar.

Why do I call it the Sweet Spot? There are several reasons. First of all, as a Teacher if you’ve done things right, by now you have set the tone in your classroom and by that I mean that you have instilled fear into your students and the certainty that you will lay the smack down for any transgression of the rules hangs over them like a heavy cloud.  I made it a point to be serious as a heart attack for the entire first quarter. No jokes, few smiles, firm but fair with no bending of the rules. In short, I was a huge prick from Day 1 to Parent Teacher Conferences and the message was clear; Do not fuck with Mr. R. 

With the proper tone set, I entered  a period of time within the Sweet Spot I liked to call the Season of  Asskissing.  Why? Because Christmas was in sight. (I taught at a Catholic School. If you aren’t Catholic replace Christmas with whatever Heathen Holiday you celebrate. It doesn’t matter, you’re going to hell anyway.) My students knew if they screwed up now, the potential for a shitty holiday was a very real thing. I taught middle-schoolers for the majority of my tenure as the fool talking to the walls.  Middle-schoolers like to try to make everyone believe that they are mature and worldly and full-grown, but secretly a good many of them still wear footed pjs and cuddle with mom on the couch before bedtime.  While they might not completely believe in Santa, they haven’t yet lost their innocence (except Jasmine, she was a total ho at 13). The bottom line here is that they were always on their best behavior to secure a spot on the nice list. They washed boards and took out trash without being asked.  Homework was neat and completed on time. Even the smelly kid turned his act up a notch and bathed a little more regularly. (quit picking your nose, Ryan).

It’s not just the kids who took part in the Season of Asskissing. Being the only male on the faculty and a very snazzy dresser, I found that during the Sweet Spot/SOA I was beset by a bevy of middle-aged cougar moms wanting to help me with everything from decorating the classroom and organizing the class act for the Christmas Play to finalizing all the details for the pinnacle event of the Season; The Class Christmas Party. Being a straight male, and therefore lacking any panache whatsoever when it comes to interior design, I would sit back and ‘supervise’ as the ladies descended upon the class with their decorations and Thermoses of Hot Chocolate. One year, the principal poked her head in to see what was going down and shot me a look mixed with shock and admiration. I winked and nodded at her and held out my mug for a cocoa refill. She walked away shaking her head.

With the classroom aglow and the details of The Party set, it was pretty much smooth sailing in the Sweet Spot. It’s the shortest ranking period of the school year so being a lazy  smart teacher, assignments were doled out at a minimum ensuring little in the way of  my time spent afterschool grading papers and much in the way of visiting the local watering holes for Holiday Happy Hours. As a result,there were a few extra Movie Days during the Sweet Spot.  This is also where I’d loosen the noose a little as well. A joke here or funny story there went a long way in getting the kids to see that I wasn’t a complete ass and it also primed the pump for receiving gifts at the Classroom Christmas Party.

Look, I’m not a total dick. Every year I would put out a letter to the Parents stating matter-of-factly that I did not expect to receive any gifts and that the opportunity to shape the young minds of their fine children was in itself a Christmas Miracle.

And every year they bought that shit, Hook. Line. and Sinker.   When the day of The Classroom Christmas Party arrived,  students with cougar moms in tow would arrive bearing extravagant gifts for yours truly, but before you get all indignant on me, realize that the gifts weren’t as much for me as they were to show up the other moms. If I got a ten-dollar paperweight from Derek’s mom, I could be sure that I was going to get a twenty-dollar paperweight from Renee’s mom. One year I got a pair of very expensive silk boxers and a personal letter smelling of perfume from Jasmine’s mom, but that is a different post all together. All in all the competition for out doing each other in the gift giving department was ridiculous, but I made out like a fat rat and I friggen loved it.

Once the Party of the Year was over and the kids were sent home the best part of the Sweet Spot started. Winter Vacation; Ten days of bliss and family get-togethers and reflecting on another year gone down the crapper and all that happy shit.

This is the only time of year that I miss teaching and the Sweet Spot between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, not counting Summer Vacation of course.

  1. I can totally relate to this. I’m in the sweet spot, and those urchins had better bring me some serious loot if they know what’s good for them.

    I love that you were the only male member on staff and a snazzy dresser!!!

  2. nursemyra says:

    Thank God I never tried to come on to any of my sons’ teachers. I’d hate to be the subject of a blog post ten years down the track…. 😉

  3. Denny likes this website. Of course, the fact that it has so many words challenges me a lot, but I’m working through it. The seven years I spent (K-6th) in the Camden public school system come in handy at times like this.

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