Tuesday, January 27, 2015


"Teachers, please allow students to enter class late.  We have an eighteen wheeler broken down in the carpool lane."

"I am starving." I mentioned to Abe as I sat in my corner in the stairwell, watching children climb the stairs.  I tried to see the eighteen wheeler through the window, but I was not on the right side of the building. 
"Here!" he said, digging through his lunch box.
"No Abe, no, really, I can't take your lunch."
He continued digging.
"Take it," he instructed, "really, I'm fine, I don't need it."  He had produced a chocolate and coconut Kashi granola bar. 
"No Abe, really, I can't.  But thank you.  Really, thank you.  You are really generous."

"Cabinet members:  our meeting has been moved to the Media Center because of a bad smell.  I repeat:  Meeting moved because of smell."

Robert climbed the stairs with a small line of kids trailing him like ducklings following their leader. 
"Hey Mr. Weiland, looks like they are going to keep the toilets on today!"  I called in way of greeting.
A large, fake smile spread across his face.
"Guess what kids!"  he exclaimed brightly.
"We get to go pee today!"

I sat in our office during my planning, staring at the flowers online. 
"She used to have these stilts...." my sister told me a day earlier.
"She could really move in them, she could like, run all over their backyard on them.  Her hair would just be flying in the wind....she was so....free."
I bought the most brightly colored flowers I could find because they looked like her.  I didn't want stupid white flowers that looked like death.

I sat in the office while a nurse extracted my blood.  After what seemed like a long time, I watched the clock to see how many minutes it was taking.  It was nearly one additional minute before I heard the click of the removed vial and the click of the second vial.  I thought of my mother and my sister racing against the clock to get halfway across the country for the funeral.  I heard another click.

"Wow," the nurse said, relieved.
"You have the smallest veins I have ever worked on.  I didn't think I would ever get it all out.  I'm sorry, but you are going to have black bruising."
"No problem, thank you."
"No!  Thank you!  Have a great day now!"

Friday, January 16, 2015

Stayin' Alive

"She has rocks in her mouth!" my neighbor's child yelled to her mom from the backyard. 
"The dog always does!  Honey...watch out for poo...." she called in return. 
"I have boots on!" the child answered.
"But honey....I really don't want your poo boots in my car.....".

"We will begin dismissing students now.  Students:  stay in your classrooms until you are called".
It was 11:30 in the morning.  The water in most of the city was off because of a huge water pipe break.
"Have you seen the bathrooms?" another teacher whispered to me.
"No, I had no idea anything was going on".
"I have to pee so bad I am about to piss my pants.  I went in there and IT IS DISGUSTING".
"The adult restrooms?"
"YES.  The adult restrooms.  Pee everywhere, on the seat, on the floors, everywhere".
Jesus, people, keep it together.
Our school has over seven hundred elementary-aged students.  Their parents received a robocall and email blast to come and get their kids.  Though it was only a water issue, things were about to be wild.

"PELO!" Oliver called, staring at the red streak in my hair.
"Yes!  Yes, you are right!"
He drifted off, staring fixedly at my hair.

"His name is Brad.  He's in fourth grade.  I don't know who his teacher is".
"Look, I'm the neighbor, his mom asked me to come and get him, she's at work".
"I'm a grandpa!  I don't know which class she is in!"
Large groups of adults were arriving and crowding in.  Some knew exactly where their kids were and waited patiently, others became frustrated when we couldn't get their kids to them fast enough.  Many friends and family had been sent to pick up kids.  Some had no idea what grade or class the kid was in.  Soon older brothers and sisters from the high school began walking up, sent to pick up their siblings. People were leaving their cars in the middle of the street.  
"We are NOT going to be here tomorrow" a teacher whispered.
"There is no way, the can't fix this thing before tomorrow".

Oliver looked at me and rubbed his cheek.  I rubbed mine in response, did I have something on my face?
"Chica!" he shrieked and giggled.
I laughed too.  

As I walked down the sidewalk the following morning, I heard the faint beats of "Stayin' Alive".  I had partied down in anticipation of having the day off and what do you know....the water got fixed!  As I approached the school, "Stayin' Alive" got louder.  It was dark and parents waited in their cars with their kids until we opened the doors.  It was cold.  A man and his daughter sat emotionless in a car with the Bee Gees blaring.  One of them rolled down a window.

"Well you can tell by the way I use my walk....." the Bee Gees sang, followed by extreme falsettos, a driving bass line and a bunch of "ah ah ahs". The parking lot was filled with the beat as students and teachers strutted to the music at just a little after seven in the morning.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Welcome to the Jungle

"Abe, you must be freezing." I called to the short sleeve wearing boy that was mounting the stairs while the weather was, like, arctic.  I was seated at my post in the corner of the stairwell, watching kids climb the stairs and later in the afternoon, I would watch kids go down the stairs. 
"No.  I am HYPOsensitive to weather."  he replied.
"So you're like, really sensitive?"
"NO.  Hyposensitive means I am not effected by weather."
"Oh, okay."
"One of my moms covers me in jackets whenever I go outside.  It is horrible."  Abe continued.
"And the thing is, I have TWO moms, so it is even worse."
"So, do you think dads are not as worried about stuff like that?"
"Definitely.  See you later." he said, with a surprise little side hug before climbing another flight of stairs. 

I drove my cranky car to the shop with my sister tailing me in Alec's car.  My coach has been making horrible noises for a while.  It sounds like the wheels are going to fall off.  I have been driving Alec's car for about a month.  I like his car.  It is a nine year old silver Honda hybrid.  I feel like I'm riding in style and that I look professional in this efficient, tidy car. 

"We have a new student!" a student announced.
"Hey, what's your name?"  I asked.
"And where did you go to school before you came here?"
Uh, okay.
"Wow.  How do you speak such perfect English?"
"Oh, I was born in the U.S.; I have just lived in Azerbaijan for a really long time!"
"Awesome!  What um, brought you over there?"
"My parents worked there."
"And what do they do?"
"They work for the CDC."
"Oh, you will be right at home here." I told her, relieved.  I looked around the room as the children of the MERS doctors, the Ebola doctors, the SARS doctors, the EVERY SCARY DISEASE doctors, smiled and nodded at her. 

"Ms. Hilary, I would like you to meet my student teacher, Ms. Sherman."
"I know you......" she said, puzzled.
"I know you too...." I answered, trying to place from where.
"YOU WERE MY HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH TEACHER!"  she squealed.  The class started laughing.
"Leslie!  Ohhhhhh, you are going to be an elementary school teacher?!" I asked, delighted.
"I hope to be..." she said quietly. 
"Wow guys, that is crazy.  I feel one hundred years old!" I told the class.
"And you taught Conrad at his old school and here!" one answered.
"That's right, No Pants, I have a wide reach.  No one can escape me."

"I have a connection to the Central Idea." James informed me.
"Even though I celebrate Christmas, that doesn't show what I really believe because I'm an atheist."
I made the 'me too' symbol while he spoke.
"People say I can't do that, because I don't believe in Jesus.  But I think I can, it's fun, I spend time with my family, we just don't do the God stuff."
"I understand completely.  I am the same way."
He smiled secretively and walked away.

"Opera is my weakness!" Jonas exclaimed when I told him that the Atlanta Opera was giving a performance at our school THAT MORNING.  He approached me in my stairwell corner and smashed his head against my forehead.
"Look!  They are right there, in the Music room, getting warmed up."
We heard the characteristic fa-la-las from the room.
At 8:30 in the morning, I sat with my class as the group began an hour long opera session.  I don't think I have ever seen live opera before.  I was strangely excited.  As the lights dimmed, I felt relaxed.  I glanced over and saw Oliver smiling and clapping, though he was surrounded by hundreds of children.  I smiled and marveled at the fact that I was at work, and that I have a great job. 

I walked to Alec's car after dropping mine off.  Holly jumped from the driver's side as we switched seats.  I was shocked when I got in.  In a matter of seven minutes, the car had been transformed.   The seat was all of the way back in nearly a lying down position.  The heat was up full blast; it was over eighty degrees in there.  "Welcome to the Jungle" screamed from the radio.
"Don't worry," Holly informed me "I programed the station in." she stated with a little smirk.
"So, you taking me to the grocery?".