Over ten years ago I was involved in a car accident that impacted my life forever. To this day I still don’t know what really happened. I was driving. I wasn’t feeling well. I came to a stoplight . . . . . .the next thing I remember is being crumpled up under the dash and some woman very calmly saying to me, “Don’t worry, Honey, I am a nurse and you won’t remember any of this.” She was right I didn’t. I only have little snips of memory over the course of the two weeks I was in the hospital. Thank God, He has us forget.
Thanking God for forgetfulness permeates my school teaching career, also. The reader must know I do not like kindergarteners. I think they are mean, unruly crybabies. The reader must also know that 60% of the kindergarteners at Tomahawk don’t speak a word of English, and by state law teachers are not allowed to communicate with them in Spanish. I stay as far away from the kinder building as possible. At the beginning of this school year, I was rolling across campus a little too close to the kinder building, and I spied a kindergarten teacher on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She was trying to explain bathroom and drink procedure to a bunch of those Kinder Kreatures, and to top it off they were the English Language Learners. Now, HollyJane is a go-with-the-flow kind of gal. She is not a wave maker. She won’t even splash in the kiddie pool. She looked at me and started stuttering, “I . . . I . . . . I just need a break.”
“Okaaay, I’ll take care of them for a few minutes,” I replied with a look of fear in my eyes and hesitancy in my voice.
“No, no, no that’s okay. I can handle this. I’m just . . . I’m just . . . . I’m just . . . .,” she started stuttering again.
“Go to the bathroom, get a drink (of water), and take a few deep breathes. I don’t think I’ll kill them in that small of amount of time,” I said with a fake smile and look of confidence. The reader needs to know that in all my years of teaching I only taught a primary class one year. I make all primary kids cry. It might be because I talk to them the same way I talk to fifth and sixth graders.
When HollyJane returned twenty years later, okay it just seemed like an eternity, they were all shaking in their boots and one was crying that was I. HollyJane and I took them inside and I taught for a little bit and only one more started crying that was her. As I edged closer and closer towards the exit and I was planning my escape from Alcatraz in my head, HollyJane gave me that look: the puppy-dog-eyes-with-the-pouty-lip-please-don’t-leave-me look. I shrugged my shoulders, mouthed the word, “Sorry”, and ran like a schoolgirl from a haunted house.
A few days later HollyJane caught me as I was tiptoeing passed the kinder building hoping not to wake the lions and she laughed and said, “I don’t know why I always forget what it is like the first weeks of school. I have been doing this for a long time, and I only remember the good stuff at the end of the year.”
“Yep, seven weeks,” I quickly responded as I dashed away.
“Seven weeks what?” she queried.
It takes forty-five days to build a habit. The many years that I taught with Colleen I would get so frustrated at the beginning of the year. I would be in a crazy-ready-to-jump-over-the-edge-mumbling snit and Colleen would smile at me and say very calmly, “Seven weeks, Cathy, seven weeks. Just give it seven weeks.”
“If they aren’t doing what they are suppose to do after seven weeks, then we can knock them off and bury them in the playground, right?” I would ask excitedly.
“Mounds of dirt on the playground might be a little too obvious,” she replied.
“Cement shoes,” I giggled.
“This is Arizona, no water. In seven weeks you won’t want to dig a single hole or buy a single bag of cement anyway,” she laughed.
She was right. Colleen was always right, even though, I would never let her know that. After seven weeks, the class was always wonderful and the ones that weren’t so wonderful I loved too much to plan a hit.
Thank God, we forget the bad stuff. Women forget the pain of childbirth; soldiers forget the anguish of war; teachers forget the first weeks of school. Women have more children; soldiers re-up; teachers continue to do what they do.
I wish I wouldn’t forget what it feels like to get zapped by the bark collar. One would think I would learn!
The Flip Side
What are we talking about? I forgot! It pains me to think, sometimes, okay, all the time.