One of my favorite poems is Robert Burns’ “To a Mouse.” It’s a really sympathetic poem about a mouse who has planned for winter by building a snug little house. The speaker is a farmer who has plowed through the mouse’s nest, destroying it, and it’s too late in the year for the mouse to build another one. So, despite the mouse’s careful preparation, he is still left out in the cold for the winter. The poem is timeless and classic, not because it’s a sad animal tale, but because Burns connects himself with the mouse in the last couple of stanzas with his famous summary, “The greatest plans of mice and men often go awry/and leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy.”
As my careful planning for the future is often thwarted by circumstances beyond my control, I really bonded with this poem. The poet doesn’t offer any sort of solution, but he is very sympathetic to both mice and people who are left wanting despite their best efforts.
Now this post is not as sad as it could be, but I’ve been thinking about Burns’ little mouse for the past couple of days as we’ve gone back to school for our work days. I vowed at the beginning of the summer to use my time off productively so that I would be organized and prepared for the new year. And I did work, pretty steadily, all summer.
Yet, here I am, one week and counting from the first day of school, in panic mode. My room is not ready, my lesson plans are not finalized, I need to choose reading lists and order books, and I have school supplies strewn across my floor. There are parent letters to write, a classroom webpage to build, worksheets to create, and meetings to attend.
This is the time of year that I love to hate. Right now there seems to be more to do than I can possibly accomplish, and the hours of the day race by. But I know that somehow it will all be finished on time, and that when my room fills up with hopeful little faces, I will know what to do with them. And even if I don’t, I know they can’t tell when I’m bluffing.