At almost-30, I am just now feeling prepared to deal with whatever little heathen nature sends my way. I am now also, at a distance, grateful for the little hellions that kept me childless for this long, because it gave me time to work out how to effectively deal with their insanity. Their actions served as natural birth control for years.
Before I began teaching, I saw myself as Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Games.
Two weeks into teaching, I saw myself as the girl from The Exorcist: completely out of control, looking in all directions at once, feeling nauseated all the time.
This is Part I of a series of stories meant to explain why I have waited until now to have children.
It was in the second half of my first year of teaching. I was amazed that I’d made it this far without lapsing into a severe anxiety disorder/dying of alcohol poisoning. At least now the kids were relatively under control, and some were even learning something.
One day I was writing on the board with my back to the classroom. I have since learned that if you want to write on the board, you do it standing sideways. I heard laughing, which is never good. Grammar is many things, but funny is not one of them. I turned, but saw nothing. Rather, they seemed unnaturally well-behaved. Again, now I know that if the children are extraordinarily well-behaved, it is because they are planning something. I turned back to the board. Laughter again, and a strange smell, a smoky smell. I turned, but saw no smoke, and saw no source of laughter. I turned back to the board.
Then, the commotion. I hear screams and small popping sounds coming from the back of the room.
I whip my head around to see a 15-year-old child, a child who is one year away from being given permission to operate a motor vehicle, and three years away from being given permission to operate weapons for the U.S.Army, patting frantically at his lap. From his lap, plumes of smoke and small flames are rising. This child, come to find out, has attempted to light a firecracker. Under the desk. In his lap. On top of his bits and pieces.
I had always been under the impression that out of everything on a man’s body, he will protect that area above all else, but not, apparently, at the expense of a minor disruption during a grammar lesson. I hauled him to the principal’s office. They sent him back because they were busy. Ultimately, I ended up standing in the hallway with this boy, his crotch charred and still smoking.
“Wh…why? Why would you do this?” I asked him. He shrugged. “You don’t know?” He shook his head. “You don’t know why you attempted to light your penis on fire.” He shook his head again. “But you are aware that this is an important part of your anatomy.” He nodded. “And you’re aware that setting explosions on parts of your person is not a wise move.” He nodded. I sighed. “Go back inside.”
And then we learned grammar.