Stolen Wallpaper

Words but a whisper, deafness a shout

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Location: Zeeland, Michigan, United States

Hi. I wish I had a job selling squirrels. They're so furry, and give you toothy grins. Unless they're rabid, in which case they will eat your face off and then find the rest of your family. That's not so good, I guess.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Sinking Sub

He stood with his back to the class, fists clenched. His sweater was constricting his neck, making it hard for him to catch his breath. He knew he had to turn around eventually, but right now he closed his eyes and put that moment off as long as he could. He'd told them, repeatedly and vehemently, not to give him assignments in middle schools, irregardless of his K-8 certification. He didn't understand these kids, didn't like them, had no clue how to impose discipline or keep their interest. He was drowning in his own incompetence, and not exactly for the first time.

These city kids saw him for what he was, he could swear to it: a hick, a rube, a poseur with no degree and no clue. He could hear them whisper things, snatches of sentences, sometimes not even whispered but boldly stated. "Who IS this clown?" "I bet we can make him cry....." "Wedeven? Woulda been a dick but instead he's a pussy?" Raucous laughter at that one. About half the kids sat passive, idly paging through their textbooks, not rabblerousing but clearly marking time till the bell. Some toughs in the back sat, legs spread, staring right at him, not making a sound. Some had bandanas, and what he thought might be gang colors; he wasn't sure of anything other than the fact that they scared the crap out of him. Some of the girls were dressed like living Bratz dolls; one was especially inappropriate, with fitted bodice, bare midriff and tiny skirt. He didn't dare send her to the office for fear of being laughed out of the building; he had no idea where things stood. The teacher who was sick had left instructions for him: read the next chapter, pass out a quiz, then just "keep them busy." That had got him through the first 25 minutes; now these eighth graders were smelling the chum in the water.

He was good with small children, especially second and third grades. He lived for the spark that was almost visible in their eyes when they mastered a new skill, got something right, worked out the next puzzle. When he asked a question, hands shot in the air all around, no matter where in the city the school was; rich or poor, kids were kids.....until a switch was flipped in their heads, around fifth grade, and they decided you were the enemy, the obstacle, the thing that must be defeated. When they got like that, all he could do was pass out some little piece of busywork from his bag of tricks and pray they didn't throw things.

From the back: "He ain't a REAL teacher." Hey, listen to that. The sound of a child getting something right. What was that quote? Every hero becomes a bore at last.