Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Saved by the bell.

I went to the closet Tuesday morning and tried to find something that made me look authoritative, but not mean...  Confident, but not bossy...  Comfortable, but not clueless.  Okay, outfit done.

Time to go...

...to school.

I'd already dropped the kids off before 8:00 a.m.  It was time for me to go fill in for an hour for Emma's teacher, Mrs. Leathers, while she went to the middle school for her son's awards day.

I prayed, "God, please let me at least look like I know what I'm doing.  Please help me not to be nervous."

I won't lie--I was scared.  I have had people tell me that they thought I should be a teacher.  I have always said that I didn't think it was for me.  The truth of the matter is that the idea of teaching has always scared me.

I walked calmly to the end of the hall.  Mrs. Leathers smiled a greeting to me as I walked in.  The kids were still in homeroom, so Emma and her classmates were there.  She grinned and turned her face away from me.  I guess it's never too early to be embarrassed of your mom.

Mrs. Leathers gave them an assignment, told them to be respectful or else, and told me what time they went to reading and what the assignment would be for the reading class. 

"Easy street," I said to myself.  "I can do this."  I plastered a pleasant smile on my face and kept going.

At 9:15, Emma's class left to go to their reading teacher.  Emma waited until everyone else had left and meandered over to me and smiled up at me and gave me a big hug.  She had to break it off abruptly because she saw some of the next class starting to come in.  Wouldn't want to get caught hugging Mom...

After I introduced myself, I handed out the test papers and watched the young minds at work.  One boy handed me his copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, "in case you get bored," he said.  I watched those kids like a hawk.  No one's cheating on my watch!

When the first boy turned in his paper 10 minutes later, I was a little uneasy.  Had she told me what to tell them to do when they finished?  I think she did...what was it?  I drew a blank.  Luckily, little Mr. Speedy Reader went back to his desk and put his head down. 

"Okay, I still got this...16 more papers to go...surely they won't all finish that fast."

Wrong.

"Must.Keep.Smiling."

They all finished pretty quickly, save for 2.  They asked me if they could read books from Mrs. Leathers' shelf.  I asked the cute, freckled red-haired girl if they had a reading story in their textbooks to do.  With wide, blinky eyes, she shook her head and said, "No ma'am.  We are finished with our books."  When I asked if they had vocabulary or something they were supposed to work on, she just shrugged her shoulders.

I let them get some books to read, but the nagging question of assignment kept dogging me.  I looked around the class...who looks trustworthy to ask about this? 

Not the one picking at his scab..."Here's a band-aid, buddy.  Let's cover that up."

Not the one drawing Star Wars fighter crafts..."You've got serious talent there, mister."

Not the one who's been sharpening his pencil for 4.5 minutes...  "Hey, I think you've got it now.  Have a seat."

Not the cute red-haired girl...I think she's trying too hard to look innocent.  Is she pulling one over on me?

Finally, a little girl came up to me and said, "You know, you look just like Emma's mom."  I replied with a smile, "I am Emma's mom."  She said, "Oh, I thought you looked like her.  I saw you out with your kids one day.  You look different."

I asked her about the reading textbook and she assured me that there wasn't anything left for them to do there.  (Boy, I hope she was telling the truth!)  I thought about what she'd said about me looking different.  Was it because I was dressed up in my teacher outfit, wearing make-up...or was it the fact that I was smiling? 

I hadn't stopped smiling in about 90 minutes at that point.  My jaws ached.  I hadn't done this much smiling in a very long time.  Granted, no one smiles ALL the time when they are with their own kids, but how much time do I spend barking orders, sighing, and complaining that I'm not being listened to?  Oh, gracious, if that child saw me at Wal-Mart with my kids, she probably is scared to death of me!  She's probably waiting for me to start yelling impatiently at her, too.

Ouch.  Self-examination time.  What I see isn't pretty.

So, I guess that I learned something at school today.  The kids I kept an eye on may or may not have learned anything, but I sure did.

4 delightful comments:

Busy Mom in NJ said...

I would have been scared too! Sounds like you had everything under control - and what a great experience for you and your daughter.

~Mad said...

So thought-full! I love reading your writing -

~Mad

Billy Coffey said...

I think all those people were right. You really should be a teacher.

That was awesome.

Rachel said...

Wow. You turned a funny post into a serious one. Nice work.

First of all - just the name "Mrs. Leathers" gives me a very strict, hair-in-a-bun, classic 19th century teacher vision.

Secondly, I would have been panicking then also. ESPECIALLY since I've never been in a pre-college classroom in my life. I know the reason I could never teach - because I never had a teacher experience, except for my own Mom!