A Momentous Education

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Tomorrow is momentous. Tomorrow a fourth grader and a second grader will enter a two-story brick building…seven and a half hours later, a fifth grader and a third grader will walk out. There is chattering and fidgeting, wiggling and giggling in the room across the hall.

“Tomorrow is momentous, Mom.”

In less than eleven hours, the chapter of another school year comes to an end for our family. I’m not sure my girls would believe me if I told them I remember what that feels like. I’m a mom. How could I possibly recall the second grade?

That was the toughest most wonderful year of my student-life.

I was sent to the principal’s office three times. Three—a fraction of the number of times my brothers were sent in their elementary tenure, but for me…it was record setting.

There was the fight with J.K. on the east side of the building. I can’t recall exactly what it was he said, but I remember it had something to do with me looking like a boy. There was the cowboy boot to the shin that I landed on J.Y.—name calling again.  And then…the pièce de résistance—a school wide assembly altercation.

We sat in our meandering rows, crisscross-apple sauce, and eager for whatever came next. He sat behind me. That boy, the one who never left me alone. He tickled and poked. He prodded and teased. My lid exploded. I stood and turned to face him. We were the only two bodies standing in the gymnasium. No one watched the stage. A swift kick to the shin would do it…it would make him stop. My seven-year-old aim wasn’t well trained. My foot landed right between his skinny legs.

She hauled me off by the ear.

I cried for what seemed like hours, waiting in the empty room for my parents to arrive. She came in. Her hands were covered in chalk dust. She smelled like lilac perfume. I couldn’t bear to meet her eyes.

“It’s going to be okay,” she said.

I cried harder. She was the most beautiful lady I’d ever seen. I was surprised to find she was soft and warm too…when her arms settled around me.

“You can’t kick people when you’re frustrated. You hurt him, you know. You could’ve hurt him far worse.” Arms tightened. “He’s going to be okay. And, you, my dear, are going to be okay too. Everyone makes mistakes. I know you can do better.” Tears were brushed away. “Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

I don’t know exactly what she taught in the 176 days, the 1,320 hours, the 79,200 minutes, the 4,752,000 seconds I was in her presence. I can’t recall any specific field trips, or projects. I don’t remember what her classroom looked like or details of our days.

I remember 30 seconds…and I will never forget them. They were momentous.

I remember she cared.

Thank you, Mrs. Strausner.