Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Flying Blind--Marcia

The teacher that I've worked for for the last five years, decided to transfer out. After I recovered from the fact that James would, after all these years, not be in her kindergarten class, and that I probably no longer had a job, I began to get excited. My secret hope was that the school wouldn't find me another spot. Given our weird refugee status, no one expects our enrollment to soar. In fact it's just the opposite. Chances are they would not need to hire a third teacher and I would be Scot free (Is it free like a Scotsman, or free like that guy "Scott" who ran off with the cookie jar or his neighbor's wife sans coincidence--anyhoo). That way I could tell my husband, with a lot of sorrow in my eyes and concern in my voice, that there just wasn't a place for me. Darn. I guess I'll just have to stay home. Sorry, Hon.

I had one blissful day when Daniel went off to his first day of school and James and I folded three-hundred pounds of laundry, gardened, and cooked a beautiful dinner. Oh yeah, and I wrote a little too. But not too much, because this would be the last week I had where it's just James and I, and it's never been just James and I. And, isn't this PLEASANT!

Then, just as we were leaving to pick up Daniel at the Jr. High, where he's in the FOURTH grade (part of the wonderful refugee business), the phone rang. I have a new boss and she's wondering why I wasn't at school that day. Great.

So ended my one beautiful day of housewifery. I hadn't really started my living the writer's life part.

But it turns out I have two neat little jobs. I really like the new teacher. She is not a master yet. It's her first year. But she's as wide open as my mouth at a cocktail party and every kindergartner's dream of pretty with her queen sized sheets of straight blond hair.

My other little job started yesterday and it is not a job at all. I get to sing with 45 third graders. As Nacho Libre would say, "It's the beeessssst." I'm not even the one that has to pull their ears when their naughty.

Mrs. Roney called me in the middle of the summer and said, "You know, I really like you, I was just down at your husband's place for lunch, great sandwich!, and he said you could sing! Did you know we're related--my relatives were La Fond fur trappers too! Anyhow, I think you'd be great as my assistant. wouldn't that be cool!"

Voila, two birds with one stone--more money and I get to sing again.

So, yesterday I show up in a jaunty outfit with the prerequisite beads around my neck--these are vintage red plastic (some of my faves). And I act assistantish.

I put name tags into music folders, I fill Dixie cups with swedish fish and sour gummies. While I am setting out chairs the accompaniest is warming up her fingers on some of the music. I sing along to most of it. Mrs. Roney can't believe her good fortune. She's got that "you've got to be kidding me you know that!" face on. Then the accompaniest starts playing "Jeanette Isabella" and I start back toward Mrs. R.

"I can't believe you're playing that, it's one of my mother's favorites . . . I think I'm going to cry."

I turn back to my chair duty. There's a lot to put out.

"Come here," she says wading through the sea of metal legs. She puts her arms out for me as the strains of "bring a torch Jeanette . . ." play in the background. Little tears pricking my lids. "Oh no," I laugh "She's not dead! I'm just emotional!" I hug my Mrs. Tiggywinkle and she pats me.

The kids start filing in. Some scared some brash. Some just ready for the next activity. Mrs. R has warned me in advance that this will be a challenging year, we have several kids with disabilities. One of them is my favorite girl of all time--I love seeing her again. She has her wonky leg adorned in a polka dot sock, is in some kind of fabulous pink bloomer outfit and has her hair cut in a bob. Isabella was the first to show me that my oldest child had compassion. He protected her like a lion on the playground at preschool. One of the other "challenges" is blind.

Once she started singing, none of us cared that she blurted out stuff in her excitement, or if she stood up when everyone else was sitting down, or sat down when everyone else was standing. A bright faced brown-haired girl immediately volunteered to be her friend and helper.

Watching Emma's face is all the proof I need in the transformative power of music. She was lifting herself to a higher place. Her face alight with joy. Her pure voice sailing out happy. And she had a friend. I heard afterward that it was her first.

It's going to be a good year.


Anonymous said...

You're flying songbird! There are some nice changes happening in your journey.

Anonymous said...

You are making me feel guilty for not being in the classroom again. I just wish I had had YOU as an assistant when I was teaching. Another wonderful story, Marcia.