by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?
Let’s just get right to it, then: I’m sorry, for totally throwing you under the bus with your other teacher. Or maybe not necessarily throwing you under the bus as much as… allowing you to stand precisely where the bus was bound to eventually arrive, and then pretending like I had no idea what you were doing there. Let’s recap, if we must.
As you may recall, you waved me over to ask if you could draw on the back of your completed math worksheet. As you also may recall I, in turn, asked you, “Well, is this something you normally do?” to which you replied, “I don’t know.” (For the sake of time, we will skip over the part where it’s fucking JUNE, and if you haven’t already familiarized yourself with what you ‘normally do,’ you’ve got bigger problems than whether or not you’re allowed to doodle on your papers.) I declared that you should know better than I, and to use your best judgement. Minutes later, I see your other teacher making a beeline for your desk and, in her quiet, scary, “You’re In Deep Shit Now” voice, she tells you that you know you’re not allowed to draw on your paper, and then not only makes you stop, but makes you recopy your answers onto a new worksheet. You looked to me, like, “What the fuck?!” And, as you may recall, here’s what I did: nothing.
So here’s the thing, kid. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but the other teacher in your classroom is FUCKING TERRIFYING. And just because I’m a grownup and get paid to hang in your classroom absolutely does not, in any way, mean that I am immune to the sheer terror of that lady’s bone chilling, turns-you-to-stone, “You’re in Deep Shit Now” voice. And as she was laying the verbal smackdown on your shitty rendering of Olaf the snowman, I very briefly considered speaking up, claiming my part… but the window of time in which I could have done so was so very small, and I unfortunately spent those few moments thinking that, really, you should have known fucking better, or at least she seemed to be under the impression that you should have known fucking better, so it was kind of every teacher/kid for him/herself at that point.
When I was a kid, I drew a picture in my journal of my dog Rugby leaping over a fence (an activity he enjoyed in real life, a prelude to another harsh reality I was soon to face… but mortality is a bit heavy to discuss, and it’s fucking June, so we will leave that for another day.) Typically, I labored over it lovingly, meticulously; it was part of a journal entry in which I extolled the many virtues of my dog (He’s so cute! I love him! He’s the cutest!) But when I returned after recess, to revisit my masterpiece, it was GONE FROM MY JOURNAL, left only were the tell-tale remnants of a paper crudely torn from a spiral notebook (they couldn’t even take the time to tear from the perforations? Motherfucking savages.) A first-time victim of theft, filled with an alien sense of rage, I furtively scoured my classmates’ cubbies. I finally discovered it roughly shoved into another girl’s journal, my name erased and hers penciled heavily over it!
Fueled by righteous indignation, I grabbed the paper, stormed to my teacher’s desk, and slammed it down in front of her, babbling what I thought was, “Miss Whatever-Your-Name Was! Someone has STOLEN and taken FALSE OWNERSHIP OF a sketch that belongs to me, and the culprit is… (at which point, I very dramatically turned and pointed to:) WHAT’S HER NAME!” In retrospect, it probably came out more like a teary, panting version of: “Drawing… me… mine… can’t… THAT GIRL!” (The dramatic turn and point was really all that mattered… I’d seen enough bits of My Cousin Vinny to understand proper courtroom posturing. I probably also said it in a Jersey accent.) Miss Whatever-Her-Name-Was called the accused over, and asked us both to explain. I calmly detailed the events leading up to the crime, all the while thinking of the most tidy way to reaffix the drawing back into my journal. So you can imagine my shock when it was her turn to plea her case, and I discovered that she had AN ENTIRE STORY COOKED UP. It was her dog, see? She had drawn him in a dog show (WHAT THE FUCK is a DOG SHOW, I remember thinking to myself, AND WHERE CAN I FIND ONE, REMEMBER TO ASK MOM LATER.) I was so unaccustomed to such fucking in-your-face lying that, for a moment, I was genuinely confused as to whether or not it had been my drawing at all. And yet it was the second shock to come that truly rocked me to my core. My teacher, arbiter of fairness and justice, wearer of eyeball on the back of her head, all seeing, all knowing, said, “Well, since there is no way of knowing which one of you is telling the truth, I guess I’ll just have to keep the picture here.”
And let this be a lesson for you too, kid. It’s a sucky lesson, but one you needed to learn: grownups are not infallible. They make mistakes, just like you. They have serious character flaws, like cowardice in the face of other, scarier grownups, and they often make shitty judgement calls, like not believing the sweet, straight-A, overachiever artist who literally couldn’t lie at that age if someone was holding a gun to her teddy bear. You will always need to trust people, kiddo, and I’m not saying that adults aren’t worthy of it. But no one is perfect (except maybe your other, very scary teacher… and if she asks, I told you SHE IS PERFECT, SHE IS INFALLIBLE, PLEASE LIKE ME.) At the end of the day, you will always have to have your own solid judgement on your side, and you must be prepared to have it challenged, sometimes even by the people you would trust the most.
Except your mom, of course. Moms ARE infallible. Except maybe when they’re texting.
I still don’t know.