Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School (Or: Did That Just Happen?)

OK, so I'm not sure how many of you know I am a brand spankin' new elementary school secretary.

I had been applying to become a secretary in the Fargo school district for over a decade to no avail. The times I would make an in-person inquiry, I would be told, "We always hire for those spots from within." Don't they know WHO I AM?!? Sheesh.

And then, a glimmer. A whim, really. I applied in Moorhead. And ... they ... said ... yes. I hope I never forget when my principal called to offer me the job. I had to pull over, I was crying and laughing and praising Heaven like a crazy person.

I've spent the last month getting ready for today. Building up to HAVING THE KIDS IN SCHOOL.

Just typing that makes me laugh. Nothing, my friends, zip--zero--zilch--NADA could have prepared me for the big day.

I ran the front desk of a 1,600+ room gaming/resort/hotel for how long with how many drunk, angry, loud adults in my lobby for how many hours in a row with the decibel level set to kill? And nope -- even that didn't give me a glimpse of the chaos, the craziness that was today.

Today made the beaches of Normandy look like a Kennedy-family picnic at Martha's Freaking Vineyard.

Crying kids. Frazzled bus drivers. Stoic janitors. Stealthy toddlers. Insistent lunch ladies. Super-charged teachers. Glassy-eyed siblings. Freaked out parents. Harried teachers aids (we call them "para-professionals" in the part of the world; heretofore referred to simply as "paras".) And the phone. Always, always, always the phone. Non. Freaking. Stop.

And then he appeared. The child who made my day. He was like a twenty-something man, crammed into a eight year-old's body. He was so matter of fact, so frank in his manner that I wanted to hug him ... even though.

So right in the midst of all of the aforementioned sensory assault, I sense someone staring at me. It's him. He barely clears the higher part of the counter around my desk -- the part where adults sometimes stand to fill out forms or rest their arms as they talk.

"Hiya, sir. What can I do for you today?"

"Well, I think I might need to see the nurse," came the reply.

"Oh?" (it's my job to make sure everybody gets to the right person the first time), "What happened? You okay?" I tried to give him the best once-over I could from the opposite side of the desk, leaning in to inspect his face and visible extremities for obvious injury.

"Well," he said, looking for all the world like a work-weary blue-collar fella telling a story at the bar, eyes sweeping the room, taking in everything and nothing, "I was runnin' real hard in PE, ya know? And somethin' just squirted outta my butt."

His gaze locked mine. "And now I think I must need some new underwear or sumpin."

And there it was. So straightforward. Not a hint of embarrassment; just what it was.

And so I walked around the desk, put my arm around his shoulders and introduced him to our nurse, Janet.

And the rest of the day? Well, the rest of the day was just like this young man had told it: straightforward. Matter of fact. It was what it was ... with one major difference.

Now I had perspective.


Leah said...


love it!

Jodee Bock said...

Perfect! Nothing else to say to that. Just perfect.

Lyz said...

Laughing so hard my eyes are tearing up. Kids are so awesome. (I once had an 8th grade girl tell me she smelled and needed to go to the nurse for deoderant. But she wanted me to write a note so she didn't have to ask.:)

srsky said...

You amaze me! I can't stop smiling... please, please, please keep writing your blog. Miss you, love you! ~d

kjmeyer said...

Laura, Laura our beautiful Laura - whom we all know is in the perfect place at this moment.

Keep them coming - keep writing - keep learning from those mini teachers.

Tears of Joy and laughter!

Brenda Levos said...

Love it Laura, hope all is going well!

Vicky said...

You and Jenay should share stories. She works at the high school in Kingman in the Disiplinary Office. She's good at it and sees some extraordinary things!

Carolyn Baana said...

Made the mistake of reading this while on a conference call. Couldn't laugh out loud and it about killed me to hold it back! I cried, my nose ran and I about choked. Thank goodness I didn't have my webcam on. Thank you, brilliant lady!

Melissa said...

In our house we call that a "shart"....and yes they do happen way too often in the world of boys!

Rebecca Larson said...

I have been waiting for that fateful call as well! It took you a decade? Whoa! I have connections on the inside and still cannot get in. Loved the story...kids are crazy and amazing little beings.

Lynae Johnson said...

After a very long day I really needed this giggle. Thank you Laura, you have a gift with words.