retirement age

You! Out! A Retirement Story

By Teri Michaud

You know what’s rude? It’s when someone interrupts your lovely thoughts to put their two cents in.

“When are you getting married?”

“When are you getting pregnant?”

“When are you getting skinny?”

“When are you getting tattooed?”

None of your beeswax is my inner-mind, twelve-year-old answer. But we are so programmed to be nice, or at least civil, that we feel we must answer these questions sometimes.

This past September, two people approached me with rude comments about retiring. “I thought you retired!” I’m standing right here with a laptop and a lanyard ID, so no.

Then, “Wow! You are still teaching!?”

If Gary and I want to hop on the motorcycle and flee town, soon we can!

If Gary and I want to hop on the motorcycle and flee town, soon we can!

We are in a training seminar for TEACHERS, so again, nope. But I was secretly thinking about retiring this year. It needed to be a secret or people keep asking questions that they think are fair game.

As a Jam Program founding mother (along with my two daughters), I knew I had to be brave. We three had a lovely dinner recently and we spoke about me ending my 25+ year career. It’s been so great, teaching.

I’ll miss so much: the stories, the staff, the field trips, the students’ telling me their families’ traditions and the names of their dogs. The paycheck. Dressing up, hustling in the morning to be there by 7:00 am, trying to eat lunch in 17 minutes, adhering to schedules, syllabi, protocol, laws.

I will miss meeting former students, ten years later, who tell me they are going into teaching because of me, or that they still write, or run, or sing in musicals, because I was good to them, or for them.

I will miss meeting former students, ten years later, who tell me they are going into teaching because of me, or that they still write, or run, or sing in musicals, because I was good to them, or for them.

So why give it up?

I have a ton of energy, and I want to do something else. I also want to craft my own day. Going to lunch when I feel like it will be amazing. If Gary and I want to go skiing out west, we could go in the fall, when prices and crowds are down; not on school vacations. Another reason I am retiring is that I can. We have helped pay for college and weddings; paid off our cottage and home’s mortgages.

In terms of filling my time, I also work with Gary flipping houses, and I help out with Jam Program.

When I told my friends at work, their reactions were sweet. Two ladies cried. One laughingly said, “You bitch!”. My principal said he was depressed, and had “a hole in his heart” because I did so much for the school and with my students. A secretary wrote: “Noooooooooooo!”. They have touched my arm or hugged me or whispered, “I’m next” or “You are living the dream!”

I gotta be brave for what’s next.

Really, really, why I am retiring is this: I had a mean, old teacher when I was twelve years old. She was an old bag who hated her job and us students, snarling at us from her sloping shoes and frizzy hair. Nope.

That’s not for me. I want to leave teaching while I still love it. Besides, I gotta be brave for what’s next.

For my girls.

The ups and downs (but mostly ups) of 61

By Teri L. Michaud

What is good about being my age? Lots! I have two games that I play with my grandchildren or students.  One, if they say a word, any word, I try to think of a song I know, and I start to sing.  Most of these children think I can sing well, because I belt out only a few bars.  The second game is the Dictionary Game.  I have the kids vs. me, and I give teams names, like The Rutabagas, and I will be The Turnip.  Same/same, so what?  They can open the dictionary to any page and ask me any word that isn't a proper noun, and I tell them its meaning.  I know a little bit of Latin and Greek roots, but the rest is basically recall and brain search and please-God some sort of connection.  Then I do the same and ask them words.  I win, usually, but they do too, because they are exposed to kayak, cardiovascular, and tandem. 

The other things that I like about being my age (61) is that I have these two fantastic daughters: Shawna and Ashley.  Then they had the good sense to marry Dave and Jeff.  Brilliantly, they then produced five amazing children: Edie, Colette, Emmeline, Julien and Miles. I've been married to Gary for nearly 40 years, and we still make each other laugh, not swoon, but laugh. Add to that, we have a little dog that will tear your face off if you mess with any of us.

Whether viewing a derelict flip house or hosting a swanky dinner party, our mom Teri is always put-together, practical, and looking on the bright side.

Whether viewing a derelict flip house or hosting a swanky dinner party, our mom Teri is always put-together, practical, and looking on the bright side.

I've got brothers and sisters who I know would give me a kidney.  Or a kick in the ass.  We get together every Christmas and St. Patrick's Day.  Randomly, we get together on other holidays, and depending on ability, hike, ski, golf, camp and bike.  They all also have kids/in-laws and out-laws who come to our celebrations. Once we had an engagement party for niece Michelle. We fashioned it after The Amazing Race, with teams of four, wearing matching bandanas.  The contests included shooting a beebee gun, sinking small boats in a kiddie pool, swimming to a dock in a relay, and wearing a prom gown on a scooter racing down a hill.  Yup, they all did it--including Jan, who was on an early date with my brother. Ten years later, and they are planning their wedding.

I live on "The Hill": a row of three houses--with one interloper home in between.  There's Teri and Gary, Jim and Mary-Ellen, and Kitty and Steve. Kitty, my sister, I've known all my life; Jim came next, when we were in third grade--friend of above-mentioned brother; Steve, grade six, another friend of above-mentioned brother, and boyfriend of Kitty; Mary-Ellen, Beach Weekend at Misquamicut in Rhode Island, girlfriend of Jim; Gary my grade 8 CRUSH--not yet a friend of said brother. We celebrate everything together--marriages, football, snow storms.

Lucky me, I also have friends who love theater, the arts, nature, NYC, food, coffee, books, running, walking and wine.

The down side of 61?  My mom is gone, and I miss her.  I have bunions, and that’s such an old-lady word, but I used to wear great shoes.

The down side of 61?  My mom is gone, and I miss her.  I have bunions, and that's such an old-lady word, but I used to wear great shoes. My knees and hips hurt whether I run or not.  I suck at technology.  My glasses are a permanent fixture on my face.  When I go into the attic, I bring my phone in case I fall down the stairs.  Not gonna do a climbing wall or jump out of a plane again.  And, although, I am a competitive runner, my “placing" days are numbered, even in my age bracket.  Those whippersnappers are gonna dust me pretty soon.