October 15, 2010

sheer terror

I have written before about a certain "difficult parent" and the trouble she likes to cause. Well, I have managed to appease her for awhile, but no calm lasts forever. Yesterday, her child was playing with a necklace all morning. Before PE I suggested I hang onto it for the rest of the day and put it in my pocket. Well, as all things do at the end of the day, the memory of the necklace simply evaporated from my mind. I remembered it only when I dug for something in my pocket at home that evening. Oh lordy, I thought, imaging the voicemail I was sure to have from mom in the morning. When I arrived at school, I was surprised to find that the telltale light on my phone was not blinking red (a sight that always creates a knot in my stomach, no matter what). But sure enough, around 7:50 the phone rang. "Yes, I have the necklace, it slipped my mind. Of course I will return it today, first thing this morning. Oh, you'd prefer that I didn't return it until after lunch recess? No problem. I have it on my desk with a post-it so I won't forget. Have a nice day!"

It should be so simple.

5 minutes before the end of recess, I spot the post-it which I had forgotten about until then--must have had other things on my mind like, oh, I don't know, TEACHING. Anyways, what I mean is, I spot the post-it, but I do NOT spot the necklace. I immediately launch into full-on panic mode. I search my desk top, the drawer underneath, the floor, my stack of papers to grade, even the trash. Then I put the handful of students who were in making up homework on the search. They crawl all around the floor, and suggest impossible places it could be. I check the same places again and again to no avail. I am beginning to feel like I am sure to either throw up or cry or both. All kinds of horrible accusations the mother is sure to make are running through my head. I am thinking about how she is sure to complain to the assistant principal, the principal, the district office, other parents, and anyone who will listen about me. The silly, young, irresponsible teacher. The teacher who stole her son's necklace. The teacher who is too incompetent to even keep track of things in her classroom. Any small margin of credibility I may have managed to scrape together in her critical view would surely be ruined. I was a wreck.

I pulled her son aside and told him the truth: it was missing, we were looking for it, I would pay for a replacement if it wasn't found. He seemed okay about it, and seemed to trust me. I asked the class to search their desks. I accused students from another class who had stopped by when I was out of the room. I called the asst. principal and warned her for the angry calls she would soon be receiving, and asked her in advance to support me from the wrath.

Then, from the grace of st. anthony or perhaps just karma paying me back for all of the blood sweat and tears I put into this job, I hear from the reading corner, "The necklace!!!" It was all I could do to keep from weeping tears of joy.

No questions asked, no wondering, "how the heck did that end up there?!," just an immediate, "Put that on your neck NOW!!" And a gigantic sigh of relief.

All in a day's work. :)

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