Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Basket Case

"When you have finished the assignment, put it in the basket at the front of the room. Keep your eyes on your own paper and do your best! Where do we put our papers?" I am greeted with blank stares and two fingers pointing at various places around the room. Sigh.
"When you are finished put your paper in the basket." I waited. Still blank. I walked over to the basket and waved it around in the air. It is the only basket in the classroom and the very basket where we have been turning everything into for a month now.
I finished my spiel and began my slow and easy pace around the room. Walk, walk, pause. Walk, walk, pause. Stare chronic cheaters in the eye. Oh yeah, buddy. I see you. Walk, walk pause.
Small hand pats at my arm. I look down. The hand is attached to the aforementioned paper and is extended in my direction. I smile at the little person and continue my rounds. Walk, walk, pause. It follows me and pats at my arm again.
"Here," it says, proferring the paper with an insistent gesture. I smile again, a little more forced this time. Walk, walk, pause. "Are you gonna take my paper?" it asks. I smile sweetly and shake my head no.
"Raise your hand if you remember where we always turn in papers in this class," I ignored the unrelenting one and turned my hope to the rest of the class. My question was met by blank stares and one raised eyebrow. The person across from eyebrow pointed out their unique talent and began trying to raise their own eyebrow to no avail. Presently, I had one entire table squinting at each other and raising the entire heads as they attempted this daunting task.
"What are you guys doing?" asked a member of a neighboring table leaning across the aisle in a dangerous manner. I felt my blood pressure soar.
"Eyebrows down! Four legs on the floor!" I addressed them both at once. "You're giving me gray hair! The question was 'Where do we turn in our work?'" I stared expectantly at Eyebrow.
"You don't have gray hair," he replied, clearly concerned about my question. This thought aroused several from across the room.
"This one time? My mom? She let me dye my hair? And it was blonde!" started one little monster.
"Well, you know how my hair's blonde now? That's because-a my lice shampoo! It was really cool!" retorted CreepyCrawly as her tablemates began to twitter about lice and move away from her.
DING! I gave my old lady teacher bell a sharp tweak and watched 22 people jump in their chairs. We got back to work. Walk, walk, pause. Walk, walk, pause. Pat, pat, pat. That hand was back on my arm.
"Don't you want my paper?" it insisted. I kindly took it by the hand and walked it over to the wire basket. I pointed. It deposited the paper and walked back to its chair.
That was when I felt another paper being thrust at me. And that's when I went off the deep end and personally carried the wire basket from child to child introducing it to each student. And that's how all the children came to think that I'm certifiable. I'd love to be a fly on the wall for some family conversations at dinner tonight.
"And Mrs.? She walked around the classroom? And she introduced us to a basket? She said, 'Hello, Joey! I'm the basket!' I think she's kinda weird."

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