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One Shot 4: Re-write the Past


This morning, I remembered one traumatic scene from childhood. It was right before 4th grade. I was taking summer school and somehow landed in the office. I still think it was too unfair for a well-meaning kid like I was. Well, here goes the re-write:

“If you 2 disrupt one more time, no more Reading Aloud.”

I sighed and maybe rolled my eyes, thinking, “Again?” That was the 5th time the 2 class clowns decided to hold conference. I liked hearing the teacher read aloud and the interruptions they caused wore my patience thin.

“And you, see me after class. That was very rude. Detention for showing disrespect for the teacher.”

I froze, somewhere between very mortified and very outraged. Sighing? As disrespectful as it can get to be, I was not sighing at her. I felt this argument to be obscenely ridiculous—I shouldn’t have to argue about whom I sighed at. I knew in the back of my mind that she was taking out her frustration at them on me, but still I was aggravated and very offended. She violated the code by wrongfully accusing me of disrespect. Maybe she didn’t deserve it after all. I immediately switched from irritated with the boys to infuriated with the teacher.

That’s when things got strange. I heard someone talking in my head. Time seemed to slow as the voice spoke to me, and I started to lose consciousness. I thought I heard something like, “I’m going to step in here. Why don’t you take a break?”

“This time, why don’t you take a break?” I said kindly to my past self. As she (or should I say, “I”?) slipped into a little nap inside my head, I laughed mirthlessly. “They won’t know what hit them.”

Quickly taking control of my almost-9 year old body, I looked up towards the teacher coldly, neither insolent nor [sardonic tone here] respectful.* Cue dramatic pause, aand… time for a little monologue.

“I don’t know if you noticed, but those two were talking during your class.” I took care not to sound sarcastic. “Is there a rule against feeling exasperated at class disruptions? Especially for someone who likes listening to Reading Aloud as much as I do? Maybe you weren’t clear, but I was not sighing at you.”

Making eye contact, I stood up at my desk and leaned towards her a bit. “Either you are simply frustrated with their talking and you are letting your negative emotions towards them manifest towards me, which is perfectly understandable and I know you’ll take care not to do it again, or, of course, is that as irritating as their antics may be, to you they’re still cute 9 year old students and you don’t like that I’m annoyed at them, in which case, bias is not a good quality for teachers to have. Would you like to tell me which it is?”

She looked away without answering. “Outside. Now. I’m going to call the office and let them know you’re coming.”

Points for for not losing it, Teach, but I still have some cards I want to play.

Holding my head up, I walked to the nearest end of my row of desks and crossed the front of the classroom, around the teacher who was on the phone, to get to the door. My slow, confident stroll was a demonstration for other students that I wasn’t scared to go to the office because I was in the right. I stopped just in front of the door, turned and politely said good-bye to the class. “It seems that I have some business in the office to attend to today, and so I have to leave early. I… will see you later.” Saying the last sentence as coolly as David Caruso, I walked out as if I were leaving for a simple dentist appointment.

In the office, I picked up a Parents magazine and casually flipped through it until I was called into the Vice Prinicipal’s office.

“Do you know why you’re here?”

I solemnly launched into my story.

“Two boys in my class were talking while the teacher was reading aloud. While she stopped to tell them off, I sighed because they’ve been disrupting the class all day. I like it when teachers read aloud and it’s hard to be patient when they keep getting interrupted. I think the teacher might have mistook me and thought I were sighing at her, which would be very disrespectful, of course. In my humble opinion, it’s a simple misunderstanding! [smile here.] I tried to make her see the situation but she didn’t like the way I put it and sent me here. I’m sorry for any trouble we have caused you. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever been sent to the office, and now it’s over something as silly as a sigh. I read the Behavior Code and I thought only kids who did something serious would be sent here. Is that all you needed to know?”

The vice principal, a Ms. Consuela Coughran, stared.

“Maybe it would be better if I didn’t go back now, for the teacher’s sake, and also so that you can talk to the teacher because she’s probably not in the mood to talk to me directly. Shall I go to the library and read for the rest of the day?”

*A little background on myself: when I was 10, I read Tamora Pierce’s First Test, and tried the practice of clearing my mind to make myself expressionless. It sounds stupid, but I can explain myself. Really. So I knew from Reader’s Digest that normal people are incapable of controlling their facial expressions (even when faking a smile), so putting these two readings together, I realized that I could probably control my face by forcing myself to feel certain emotions. I think it’s like trying to make a Patronus, if that helps. Anyways, on my cute young face, a blank expression (borderline psychopathic) could shake up most people. It doesn’t work anymore because 1) the adult world is different and 2) growing up as a strong square (think Stage 4 morality), I was too stony-faced to develop a cute facial structure. At age 8, that was not a problem. Sigh.

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