I put on extra make-up this morning, not feeling quite as beautiful or confident as I usually did. After applying a heavy layer of concealer around my eyes, I forced a smile. And as I was reminded of each and every child that I taught in my 1st grade class; that smile slowly became more genuine.
How could I feel like this? I was so blessed! There were so many people out there who had it much worse off than me, right? So I had to be grateful! I nodded to myself and let my mind melt into that of a teacher; someone my students adored and looked up to for guidance.
By 5:00AM, I was all ready to head over to the school. I wouldn’t see my children’s smiling faces for hours, but I was anxious to get out of the house. I grabbed my keys off the nightstand, leaving my husband, who was still sleeping soundly in the bed.
On my twenty minute ride to work, I listened to the news over the radio. There was more bad news then good. There was an accident that killed three people on I-695, a shooting over near Allen Drive that left a man paralyzed, and to top it all off, a 13-year-old was raped on her way home from the middle school down the street from the school I worked in. Again, I was grateful for my many blessings.
When I got to the school, there were only a few teachers in the building. I imagined they were probably in the teacher’s lounge, drinking coffee and enjoying their moment of peace before rambunctious children made their way through those double doors. I, instead, headed straight for my classroom. I had become very excited about the day ahead.
I washed all the blackboards, spruced the place up a bit (even though, we had “Clean Up Time,” you could only expect so much from children), and looked up a variety of different learning games to try out. Yes, it was going to be a good day!
As it approached 8:50AM, children slowly started to file into the classroom. I did my usual greetings to the kids (and some of the accompanying parents) with a huge grin on my face. The kids always returned that grin, which made my heart flutter with satisfaction.
With the bell came the last of my students. We started the day with our morning song:
Goodmorning to you!
Our day is beginning,
There’s so much to do!
Goodmorning to you!”
The day went by fast from that point on and before I knew it, it was recess. The weather was nice, so the kids went outside to play on the jungle gym. I sat on a bench with the other teachers and we gabbed about our lives. Well…except for poor Mr. Mitchell. He was the only male teacher in the lower level grades (Pre-K-2nd grade). He took it upon himself to watch over all the children while we “gossiped.”
He tapped my shoulder (as he usually would when one of my kids were acting out) and pointed over to a hose that little Jack managed to turn on. He had his back to me as I approached him and when I called his name (I was right behind him by then), he freaked and aimed the hose right at my face.
By the time Mr. Mitchell intervened and grabbed the hose, I was completely soaked. I was annoyed, but kept my cool. Someone (I’m not sure who) handed me a towel and I immediately wiped my face.
I looked down and little Janey was staring at my face inquisitively with her head cocked to the side. “Mrs. Robin, why do you have black paint around your eye?” she yelled up to me. I saw my horrified expression mirrored in the faces of my fellow teachers. I stood there frozen.