Mississippi Teacher Corps

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Not my most dignified moment as a public figure

I missed three consecutive days of school. These were the three days before spring break, and two of them were nine weeks testing days. I would feel really awful about missing those days, if I hadn't had a darn good reason for not coming in to school. I can laugh about this story now that a few weeks have passed, and maybe someone else reading this blog can do the same.

The Tuesday before break, we had the writing state test. Read: four hours of sitting in a classroom without moving, one hour of which was actually used for test taking. After my students finished the exam, and I had sent their exams out of the room, and all the other students in the rest of the school had finished, we still had to wait in the classroom for over an hour. It was lunch time, and my students started getting really irritated that I wouldn't take them to lunch. I explained that it wasn't my choice and we had to wait until the school called us to lunch, but they would not accept this explanation. They claimed that the rest of the seventh grade was in the cafeteria (they weren't, as they were all stuck in their respective classrooms), and that I would make them starve to death. Mind you, I was ravenous myself, and even had my lunch in a bag in the room, but thought that it would be really cruel to eat it in front of a bunch of hungry kids, so I suffered along with them.

We were finally dismissed to 4th period, more than an hour after we were supposed to eat lunch, and still not allowed to go. I was literally light-headed and dizzy, and had no energy to quiet down my students as I attempted to teach. My stomach hurt from being so hungry, and I was relieved when we were finally called to lunch.

For the next few periods, my stomach didn't feel quite right, and my energy levels had not recovered from having to wait to eat. I was dragging my feet through my classes, just trying to make it til the end of the day. After school, I still wasn't feeling very well. I spent some time working with students who had come to see me after school, then headed over to the high school, where the baseball team that a friend of mine coaches was playing against my district's high school team. After the first inning, my stomach felt pretty upset, so I decided to go for a quick run around town to maybe calm it down.

I enjoyed the run, since I must have heard at least a dozen of my students call my name out as I passed their stomping grounds. At one point on the run, I had to duck into the grocery store and ask to use the bathroom (usually for employees only) because I suddenly had to go. So, I thought that my stomach must have been upset all along just because I had to use the bathroom. I ran around for a bit longer, but still didn't feel quite right. As I ran through a neighborhood near the store, Keldrick, a student who was in my class for the first few weeks of school before being promoted to the eighth grade, called after me to ask if he could run with me. "Yeah, hurry up!" I yelled as I continued toward the school. To my surprise, a minute or two later, he caught up to me, huffing and puffing and complaining that his abs really hurt. I started walking with him and told him that he should go watch the baseball game with me, so we started walking toward the high school and chatting.

As we were walking through a field, my body suddenly gave me a sign that it couldn't keep it together any more. I broke off the conversation I was having with Keldrick to inform him, "Keldrick, I'm really sorry, but I don't feel right and I need to get sick. Walk away from me for a minute because you don't want to see this." I then proceeded to keel over in the field and vomit as Keldrick looked on. After I'd stopped, he asked me if I was OK, and I apologized to him again. The kid was nice enough to say, "It's OK, Ms. Long Skirt Blue Jacket, I've seen someone get sick before." I explained that I was probably sick just because my eating schedule had been thrown off by state testing. We walked over to the gas station near the baseball field so that I could buy myself a bottle of water, then watched some of the baseball game. After a few innings, Keldrick asked, "So, do you feel like giving me a ride home?" He lives only a few blocks from the school, but it was after dark in an unsafe neighborhood, so I agreed (even though I could technically get in trouble for that kind of thing). As we were walking to my car, I started shivering from feeling sick, and Keldrick offered me his sweatshirt. This kid gets serious props for how he handled this bizarre situation.

I drove Keldrick to his house, and stopped my car just in front of it. He asked me if I wanted to come in and meet his grandmother. In response, I opened my car door, leaned out of it, and vomited into the street as my seatbelt kept me from falling out of the car. Keldrick's sister, who is also a student at my school, came out of the house. As I wretched, I heard him saying to her, "It's Ms. Long Skirt Blue Jacket. She's sick!" They both stood there watching, asking if I was all right, and I couldn't respond as I was still throwing up. When I stopped, I apologized to him for throwing up in front of him yet again, then drove back to the baseball game. I wasn't feeling well enough to make the 30 minute drive home. At the end of the baseball game, I found my friend who coached the visiting team and told him about my stomach problems. He very kindly offered to drive me home in my car, which ended up being a good thing because I threw up again in the Walmart parking lot as he went in to buy some toilet paper for me (I was out and had been planning to pick some up at the end of the school day), and one more time on the way home. Once home, I continued to get sick. The next day, I was so worn out that I tried to take a shower and ended up lying down in the bathtub because it was too draining to stand up for five minutes. It took me three days and two doctor's visits to feel healthy again.

Oddly enough, Keldrick seems to have decided that I'm the coolest teacher in the school since this incident, and has come by to hang out with me, give me hugs, etc. How many teachers can claim that they've earned cool points by vomiting in front of a student?

Now playing: Wallflowers- Three Marlenas


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