I’ve started volunteering in the kid’s classrooms. I was too afraid to commit to it last year because carrying Jackson made me so sick. What if I committed to a regular schedule but on the required morning my body would just not let me out of bed? Last year I was still in Caidgen’s class a lot, but it was sporadic, when Jackson decided he didn’t need my full attention at the moment.
This year, my empty womb is all too regular. The wail less house so quiet I hear the clock ticking: I know I won’t forget my appointments. I’ve arranged to help out in Caidgen’s class Monday afternoons and Ami’s Thursday afternoons. It gets me up and dressed. It makes me forget myself in service to others. And it allows me to get to know these critical women in my children’s lives and how they run their classrooms.
Three weeks ago while I sat at Mrs. D’s desk filing some papers I had a clear view of my son as he sat for reading time. Mrs. D reads from an oversized spiral book and asks varied thoughtful questions. Last year at carpet time it was hard to spot my son. Undoubtedly his little ashy head would eventually sway into view just below Mrs. D’s feet. He was always right in front. Always watching. Always enthralled.
This Monday afternoon he was in the back of the group picking his nose.
He was so far in the back that he wasn’t even on the carpet. His lanky body was turned away from me and Mrs. D but I knew the nose picking stance. There was no fooling me.
Mrs. D asked a question. Lots of different colored hands popped up. Caidgen’s white fingers were too entrenched in his nasal canals. I wanted to reprimand him right then. “Caidgen Haught! Why is your hand not up?” Pause. “Where are your fingers?” All 25 students would turn around, gaping at him. Sure it would disrupt the flow of Mrs. D’s lesson, but not for long. It was a split second discipline that would correct his laziness for years to come. No son of mine was going to be picking his nose during important class time.
But I was there to serve Mrs. D, support her, not pick at my son (pun intended). If I had been at home nursing my one month old precious boy I would never have known about the booger/reading incident. I kept my head down and filed papers, only glancing up now and then in hopes that my attentive little student had returned. I saw only the back of his red shirt. I clenched my teeth shut as the air in the deflating balloon of pride in my children whirred out.
At home I couldn’t resist. Not wanting to be critical, I said, “So…the story your class read today – it didn’t seem to interest you.”
“On the carpet.” That came out harsh. “Poor thing, the carpet’s not big enough for your whole class. It’s too bad you didn’t get there earlier so you could have sat on the carpet.”
“We have another carpet too, in the back. We should put them both together and move all the desks out and then we’d have enough room.” His eyes were darting back and forth and his hands flaring about. I knew I was about to lose him to inventions.
“But the story – was it not a good one? You didn’t seem to be listening.”
“Huh? I was listening.” He looked genuine.
“You weren’t even facing the teacher!” Oh no, I could feel the lecture snapping inside, fighting to come out. I clenched my teeth.
“I was listening, mommy.”
I wanted to say, “Listen, you little punk, I better not ever catch you in the back of the class, back turned to the teacher, a dirty finger up your nose in plain view of every respectable person again or I will…”
I said, “Oh. Good. It was a good story. I liked it. Next time you need to pick your nose though, use a Kleenex, okay?”
“Okay,” he said. And he ran off to play.