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Friday, May 16, 2014

31. The fear of being a teacher

When I opened my mailbox, I was surprised to find a golden envelope with my name written, so I did not wait to enter home and opened it right there. It was an invitation to a special event during teacher appreciation week, the envelope and the paper were very elegant and I was happy that finally my name was preceded by the word teacher. After the initial panic and my reluctance to initiate this adventure, I think that I feel well with that word.

I felt nervous when I wake up the day of the event, there were many questions in my head fluttering like doves in a park, is time to feel part of the group? Do give class to a group of children makes me a teacher?

When I began to shave  it came to my mind all the memories of my student days. The images were not very pleasant. I remembered the frustration by not be able to pass the exams, dire hours that is preparing writings that  my teachers never read, the folly of learn things that don't make sense and that panic of not being accepted for other children.

I decided this was not the time for my children's fears,  I could leave them for a chat with Gaby in order to laugh at all of this and not see them with grief.

When I was ready to cross the street to get into school, I found happy children and parents, all thanking me for my daily work and for making nice classes. I received small gifts that I put very carefully in my back pack and then I went to the offices, where there were several  posters that parents and administrative had been placed to make us feel that for a week, we were the heroes of the community.

I started to walk where appreciation ceremony would take place for all the teachers, when I realized that my phone had almost no battery, so I returned to an empty office to charge it for a few minutes.

While I was waiting I could see a silhouette on the other side of the aisle. At first I thought that it was  just a backpack, but with a little more attention, I noticed that it was a person, seated, with his head between his legs and arms immobilizing his body. I approached with care to not disturb his stance, and I realized that it was a first grade child.

I decided to sit next to him, to make him company while my phone was loaded but he did not move, he ignored for several minutes, so I started to look for a candy in my jacket and when I found it, I said aloud: wow, it’s amazing what you can one find in your jacket when you do not wash it!

His small body moved slightly, but I could not get his head between his legs.

I went further and touched his shoulder... would you like a half of this candy?, I am in diet, so you will get half of all these calories.

The child began to cry and his body moved like leaf driven with the autumn wind. I had to be more direct in my approach and I hugged him... incredibly, his response was to hug me so hard that I thought I would stifle.

Slowly he calmed and I could finally see his face, I recognised him because once I found him during the break and helped me with half of my sandwich.

I carefully wiped their tears but they were mixed with snot, so I had to find a Kleenex to do a better job, when finally he looked at me, I stretched out the candy and joking I said that there was not doubt that this candy had lot of stories after being in my jacket for months.

I asked him to tell me his story, but he hid the face on my chest and it was clear that my cheap psychologist tactics wouldn't work. So I started telling him  a story that my students and I had written for mother's day. It had all sorts of characters, flowers and bugs, I suppose that I put too much emotion because after a moment he began to laugh. Yes, I recognize that squirrels do not spit broccoli soup and flowers do not attack pigeons... but in the end that face looked at me and began to speak:

-      My stepbrother screaming to my mom because I make noise at home, my mom yells at me because I play quietly in the courtyard, it says that I am rare. My classmate steal  my lunch and it’s scary to come to school every day.

I looked at him trying to not show pity, but understanding. I told him about my panic I was not doing things right and not to teach children as I should. I told him that when child was afraid of tests and It was awful to make angry to Sara Johansenn or Peter Dutch, because that would cost me a fight at the end of the day.

-Adults are not afraid of anything, and teachers may not have fear, they are teachers!

His gaze was confounding, but explain that adults have the same fears of children, only that they grew with us and we learned to hide them.

At that time my cell phone rang and we walked together up to where it was. It was Gaby, annoying because I was not at the ceremony, where did you go?, she asked.

I saw my new friend and I told him: do you see it? adults also have fears, for example to be in the wrong place.

I replied to Gaby  I would find her soon, and then took Edward's hand, and asked him  to make me company during  the ceremony and sit with me, because I was afraid to be wrong, with the wrong people.

When everything is completed, I asked him to tell me the names of the guys who took usually his lunch and together we went to teach them a lesson. I looked at them and told them that Edward was not alone, that he had a guardian and that if something happened you, I would ensure that their parents knew about this.

When everything was over I lead him to  his mother and asked her to observe him carefully, that his son had a lot to give to the world, but needed a little help from his friends.

I don't know that it means to become a teacher, I know that they are not only the books, but the exact moment at which one gives is that the cell phone has no battery, and that there is no one else to turn to teach a child that in life, we all have fear of something, even  to be teacher!