Monday, July 12, 2010

first grade anxiety

I went to the first grade in 1973. I don’t know what first graders do nowadays, but we held hands in a circle and sang songs, learned about Pilgrims and had a picture of George Washington on our wall.
The teacher’s desk was at the back of the room. My best buddy, Charles sat close and did different work sometimes because he was so bright. I will refer to our teacher as Mrs. T. She stood up in the front of the classroom when she lectured us. More than once she would stop teaching and start sniffing the classroom air. She narrowed her eyes a bit and jerked her head slightly. I could hear her nose hiss.
“It smells like somebody has to go to the bathroom,” she declared. “It smells like someone has to sit down.”
I remember this happening at least one time where she completely halted the lesson. No one chuckled at Mrs. T. saying someone had to sit down. 20 children were at their desks sitting down right then. But her discreet way of stating that one her charges had to pass a stool was not amusing. It was stressful. She wouldn’t resume the lesson until someone left the room. I don’t know about anyone else but the anxiety would have slammed shut any evacuation desire right away.
“Come on,” Mrs. T. finally said. “You can get some water for my plant too.” And he held up an empty coffee can.
Finally Charles walked out of the room taking the can. I don’t know if it was his flatulence that began the incident or he was just taking a bullet for us. But that’s the kind of courage that is rarely acknowledged. Thanks Charles.

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