One of the more interesting, entertaining, demanding and exhausting aspects of working in a boarding school is Dorm Duty. As Head of an all boys dormitory, I am responsible for thirty two students, sophomores to seniors. Boys from all over the world live on the same hall; hang out in the Common Room; keep Dominos in business; play highly competitive Four Square on the patio; and break windows with missed lacrosse shots. They teach each other how to tie ties, loft their beds and do laundry. They bicker and wrestle; they play music and video games; they advise each other on classes, teachers to avoid and girls. They have baking contests in my kitchen and leave a big mess; they shovel faculty driveways after a blizzard. Some watch hours of Sports Center, Jeopardy and Presidential Debates.
A colleague who does duty in a smaller girls' dorm visited and nearly choked in the hallway, "How do you stand the smell in here?" I'm not sure if I should be embarrassed by my response, "What smell?" I’m on duty every Sunday night and weekend duty every five weeks or so. (That’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday, folks!) Not a Sunday night goes by that I don’t hear (or overhear) something really funny. A few of the highlights from my Sunday evening Facebook posts:
September: Conversation overheard on a Friday between two boys, one new to the dorm.New resident: “Wow, Mrs. Gold is actually pretty nice.
Second-year resident: “That’s because it’s Friday night. I don’t even want to tell you what she’s like by Sunday night!” #truethat
October: When teenage boys fight about the Civil War like it's a current event. #Commonroom
February: After a particularly challenging three nights in a row. “Mrs. Gold, when do you hate us the most?”
Me: (too quickly) February. #sorrynotsorry #Februaryinaboardingschool
March: Highlights from three nights of weekend dorm duty: A bat flying around the stairwell followed by bedlam and screams of terror from Varsity athletes; furnace going out in arctic temperatures; several “Mrs. Gold, do you want to see my magic trick?”; endless water bottle flipping contests; heated political debates; heartfelt discussions about which numbers they want on their lacrosse jerseys; a broken window in the common room; frequent reminders to get homework done; more frequent reminders to do dorm jobs. #MarchbreakCountdown
April: Conversation with a young sophomore eating a whole box of Chips Ahoy. Like toddlers, teenage boys do NOT need a lot of sugar at night.
Me: Slow down on the sugar! Isn’t your body a temple?
Boy: No, it’s more like a hut.
May: Topics covered on dorm duty tonight: mustaches; prom asks; how to grow; Celtics; the Princess Diana documentary and profound shock when they realize she dies at the end; hypnosis; homework; procrastination.
Boys returning from the prom, and as always I meet them at the stairs to check them in and remind them to hang up their tuxes. One senior, “This is the last time I’m gonna hear you say that.” Yes, we’re starting to get sentimental here as graduation looms. Later in the Common Room, one asks, “Is it hard to say goodbye after living with us for three years?” I don’t necessarily want them to stay, but saying goodbye is never easy. #bittersweet