The Dreaded Last Day

I know how it goes. They think they’ve tricked me—my students. Most told me they’d be absent the last day before Christmas break, but what parent would give up a day of free child care?

And so they stampede the halls like elephants, flipping off any light switch they pass, running at different rates. Most of them arrive to class. I ask where the missing students are. Kandra is one. One says, “I think she’s smoking in the bathroom.” Another starts yelling, “Nicotine! Nicotine!”

I know the secret rules here. I know that if I call their bluff and go to the bathroom, the other kids will tell her, “That teacher is a pervert, he’s out to get you.” And they’ll follow it with, “We’re you’re friends, we’d never narc on you. Snitches get stitches! Snitches get stitches!” You see, kids always believe who they like. I’m not afraid of pint sized gangster wannabes. I just know that if the girl has a real problem, I’d be the weirdo for assuming otherwise. It’s easy for her to say she had one.

And the boys go on. “Yeah, that’s because he lets the girls get away with anything.” I think to myself… job security. Don’t be the weird guy who calls the girl out of the bathroom.

I go across the hallway to an elder woman teacher. “Hey, a few boys said a girl went to the bathroom with an issue. Can you make sure she’s okay?” She says okay and goes to check on her.

I go back to watch my little trouble makers. One already pulled out a rubber band crossbow with skewer ammo, and he’s having another kid hold a notebook with a drawn target on it. I walk over and take it. “Awww, do I get it back at the end of class?” I’ll be dealing with him asking for the next hour.

The girl finally walks in. “Why did Mrs. Fred have to walk in?” She goes to her seat as I tell the rest to sit down. A few stay up. I say it again, and they finally sit.

I start a lecture. A few are so hyped for break, they start to talk. I stop. “Hey guys, he’ll get mad… stop.” says one. Why would he say that… I realize I’m frowning.

I look at my plans for today, a lesson that includes a picture to color. I was sure I’d planned a fun day in here.

“So today, I think it’s time to break from the norm. We are just going for a walk. Get your coats, it’s 58 outside.”

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