A memory surfaces from childhood days. It is dark, and it is late at night. Late could have meant anything after ten o’clock; we were always an “early to bed, early to rise” household. We are travelling home in my father’s car, from a day out, or an evening out. The roads are quiet and it is easy to fall asleep on the big leather bench seats in the back of the car.
There is a wish for nothing more than to have my head on my pillow. Dozing, I wake from time to time, noticing the progress on our journey. I want to be at home, under my blankets, but, at the same time, I do not want to arrive, because arrival will mean getting out of the warm car and going into the house that will be cold because there will have been no fire lit in the evening. The bathroom would be cold because the paraffin heater would not have been alight to take the edge off the chill of the night air. The bedroom would be cold. Warmth beneath the cotton sheets and woollen blankets would take a while to develop.
The memory is one of exhaustion, of wanting to do nothing more than to just fall into a deep sleep. It would be sleep that would be undisturbed by thoughts of needing to wake for school because we would never have gone out on a school night.
A sense of exhaustion has descended as the final week of the term approaches. Perhaps the tiredness owes much to the tension of the strange times, from the need to constantly behave in an abnormal way. Perhaps it arises from the effort required to insist that the sixteen different classes I teach wipe down tables and sanitise their hands at the end of every lesson. Perhaps I am exhausted from having to carry boxes of books from room to room before lessons can begin. Perhaps I am exhausted because as someone who is weak at behaviour management, I struggle to create a peaceful atmosphere in the classroom and feel a consequent unease.
Whatever the reason, I am as weary as that small boy riding through the Somerset lanes on a dark night. All I need to do is to get through to the end of the school day on Thursday, 17th December. Like the boy, I shall sleep soundly.