Electric Boy Meets Conductor Girl: A Short Story

[4-minute read]

Some people don’t follow directions very well. He wanted to do it right, he really did, he always wanted to do the right thing but he had gotten a little confused that day.

He’d always thought there was only one place for all that nutty energy, and that was Games With the Boys, so many games, though not that many boys. It was always the same crew, with the odd newbie thrown in who would sometimes come back for more but most often wouldn’t. Not everybody wanted to play that hard or that long, but there you go. One schoolboy morning, he learned a new thing.

He turned his head, more slowly than he would have to find the outfield fence while racing back for a deep flyball, less furiously than when detecting tacklers with a brown ball under his arm. He was in the right-hand row, four desks from the front. She just walked into room 10, eyes down and too many books held against a softening chest. She bustled right by.

Surely he wasn’t too obvious. His hair was a little longer now. He didn’t stand out so much,  Sunday school cuts and careful combing having been refused. The loud girl had stopped spitting his name in scorn. This was pleasant, but he still never talked to any of them. Why bother? Mr. P. always took their side, wasn’t fair, but it didn’t do any good, and that guy had some scary vocabulary and a wooden pointer that he didn’t just point with. Anyway. Game Boy kept his head down, too, until the girl with the long blonde hair was two desks past him.

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I’m Not There

It’s Labour Day Tuesday and, for the fourth straight year, I am skipping school. It’s about 2:30 p.m., and in the olden days I would have been well into the last teaching period of the day. The Teacher Dreams – can’t find my classroom, can’t find my clothes, don’t know what subject I teach – are over. The performance anxiety – can I still DO this? – had evaporated two minutes into period 1, and I would now be feeling the great fun of a new beginning (even though the marking pile already grows thick) and the eagerness to find out who these kids are and what we’ll be able to do together.

I would be in my element. I might be sitting at my desk watching them write their first journal entry (“All About Me by Me” or “What Am I Doing Here?”) or exercise or assigned reading, but more likely I’d be strolling about, interviewing students, offering random observations, observing the creatures in their unnatural environment. Or maybe I’d be standing at the front, leaning slightly against the chalk ledge, right ankle crossed over the left, rambling on. (The horizontal streak of chalk dusting my butt didn’t concern me; at least once, though, the grommets on my right hiking boot hooked the laces on my left, so that a particularly animated point I wanted to step up and make vaulted me face-first into the legs of the front-row desks. That was a good one. I bowed deeply.)

By this time, I would already have forgotten to send down the afternoon attendance check, so a (usually) cheery secretary calls to try again to get Mr. H. properly trained. But there’s no staff meeting, no reporting deadlines, no rebellious kids (yet), no sense of depletion or the (inevitable) frustration of my most dearly held intentions. Hope springs in an educator’s autumn. This was a great day to be a teacher.