Well, it’s official. I’m sick. As I fight the flu (I’m feeling better today than yesterday – today I only feel as if I’ve been run over by a van, not a bus), here’s another one from the archive. An oldie, that many probably haven’t read. I’ve got a new post sometime this weekend and plan on resuming my normal work/writing on Monday.

Everyone knows that teachers are held to higher standards than regular folks. Kids look up to us—it’s that simple. We’re the ones who put Band-aids on cuts, comfort the homesick, reattach eyes to beloved stuffed animals (I’ve already done this…twice) and navigate the tricky waters of five-year-old friendships. Anyone who has run a classroom of young children knows it’s not a stretch to say that we’re worshipped.

But the funny thing is, we’re normal people.

I teach in a town relatively far from where I live. It takes me almost thirty minutes to get to school. Yes, I often complain about the commute, but one day I was reminded why the distance is a good thing.

While driving home from work, I figured I could save some time by popping into a local grocery store—local to the school, that is—to pick up some items I needed for a special snack the next day (mini Oreo cookies…wheels for our graham cracker buses). While in the store, I picked up a couple things I needed for home as well, including a twelve-pack of my favorite beer. It had been a stressful day; I thought I deserved it.

And as I headed toward the checkout with my cookies and beer, I bumped into a parent and former student. Neither said anything about my purchases, but I saw their eyes. I knew what they were thinking.

Okay, so I’m a teacher. I have a great responsibility and I take it very seriously at all times—not just when I’m in the classroom. I understand, too, that my students think I’m a rock star (a few have even told me so). However, I’m also a human being. I get stressed out and, trust me, I’m not always good at hiding it.

For the most part, though, I like to think—I hope—that my students are not aware of my stresses. I’ve had moments where my personal life was in turmoil and I wasn’t sure I could hold it together, but in front of my class, I smiled through it. I had to. Not only would my students not understand my grownup problems, but they didn’t need to hear about them. In fact, they deserved not to. They’d have plenty of grownup problems of their own—as we all do—in the future.

That day in the grocery store, I was reminded why living a distance from my students is a good thing. Sometimes, keeping my home life separate from my school one is what’s best for my students. And because from time to time, I need a beer. Don’t hate me because I’m human.