Memoir, Teacher

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But…

Every day, when the end of school bell rings, I walk my 9 and 10 year old charges down the hall, out the front door, and down the walkway where they line-up to catch their buses. Now, this SHOULD be a simple activity because, really, the bus line-ups are no more than a 10 second walk from the front door of the school. However, there is a slight downward tilt to the walkway which of course signals, DANGER! The teachers are supposed to ensure the kids walk, not run, the 5 seconds it takes to get to their bus line-up. Well, of course this is a daily losing battle because being first in line when you are a bus student is almost as important as life itself. Everyday I end up walking backwards down this slight incline, screeching like a fish wife, “Walk! Walk people! Stop running! No running!” It’s not pretty and it’s only a matter of time before I slip on ice, fall flat on my face and smash out my front teeth, making me a hideous hag.

So, why is it so important for me to control the pace of the race to the bus? What would happen if they ran? I mean, not all of them would run. There are many children who wouldn’t (or couldn’t) run if they were being chased by rapid wolves. But the ones who would run…the ones who would race like the wind to be first in line, what might happen to them if we let them run free? Well, they might fall down. And chances are good that if they fell, they would scratch the palms of their hands or scrape their knees. Chances are slim to nil they would die. Personally, I think a few scratches and scrapes might do some of these kids some good. First of all, they will most likely not need me to remind them to slow down next time. Second, they might realize what pain really feels like and not cry every time they get a hangnail or beg for a bag of ice every time they bumped their toe.

Enforcing the walk only rule to the buses is not the only control freak issue we are forced to enforce. We also have the “no walking, standing or sliding on the ice” rule. Like most playgrounds, ours is covered with asphalt. This means when it rains and then freezes, we have a skating rink for a playground. When I’m on duty these days, I often wonder what horrible crime I committed in a former life to have to endure such hell. All of the children converge on the ice and start slipping and sliding, laughing and giggling. My job is, of course, to kill this source of joy. “Get off the ice! Get off before you fall down!” Because we all know, falling down is the worst thing that could ever happen to a child. So, we force all 600 children onto the one tiny piece of asphalt that is not covered with ice (probably because it is above a sewage back-up drain) and make them stand in one place, in below zero temperatures until the bell rings once again and releases them back indoors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.

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