Recap: Libby enjoys Shabbos with her two foster children and her niece. After Shabbos, Mrs. Kahn calls to let her know that Sabrina’s and Marnie’s mother is planning to come visit them before Pesach. Libby doesn’t want her to come.
The next day, after dropping the girls at school and driving Lauren to her school, I headed to work. I had a good lesson today for the seventh-grade teacher. I hoped she would like it. I had prepared a lesson for the second grade that should go well, but with that class, it was really hard to tell how it would go.
I stood in front of the second-grade class and began with the roll call. I was able to get through each name without anyone calling out or running around. “Now, boys and girls, I brought something special for you to do today.” I held up a pile of picture books. “These books have illustrations but no words. They are wordless picture books.”
Michael yawned loudly.
“You will write a story to go with the pictures. I am going to model what I mean.”
Michael stood up.
I began showing the pictures of the book The Wave.
“You see the girl is standing near the ocean and some seagulls are watching her. So, here are some ways you can start your story: ‘One day’ or ‘Once.’ Next, as a writer you need to give the main character, the girl, a name. What should we name her?”
Simi raised her hand. “Violet.”
“Yes, she looks like a Violet. Perfect. So, Violet went to the beach with her mother. Her mother was sitting on a beach chair and Violet strolled towards the water. A flock of seagulls followed her.”
I glanced around the room. “Do you understand how you are creating the words to go with the picture? You can use your imagination.”
Lisa raised her hand. “Can I pick the book I want?”
I had a pile of eight books but what if everyone wanted the same one. I thought fast. “No, I will give you a book. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset,” I said.
Two children groaned.
Michael left his seat and headed to the back of the room.
“Please stay seated so I can give you your book.”
Michael pretended not to hear me.
I debated that if I spent too much time fighting with Michael then I wouldn’t be able to finish the lesson.
I walked around distributing the books. The girls began looking through the books and I could see that they were excited to start their stories. Ralph was watching Michael.
“Ralph, I want to see you get started. Please look inside your book. It’s a really good one.”
I glanced at the walls of the classroom. There were some signs that were posted by one of the three previous teachers that said: “Class Rules. Be Considerate. Don’t talk when someone else is talking. Don’t get out of your seat without permission. Raise your hand and wait to be called on.” Another sign said: “Mistakes mean you are trying.”
I saw a good spot for a word wall and decided I’d make one for the class for this week.
Ralph stood up.
I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach.
“Ralph, please sit down.”
Michael ran over to Ralph and tapped him on the shoulder. Soon the two boys were running around the room.
“Boys, this is writing time.”
My voice to them was like a soft breeze that meant absolutely nothing.
They ran faster and faster knocking over a desk. Michael found a soccer ball that was resting on top of the lockers in the back. He threw it at Ralph. It hit Ralph in the face. Ralph screamed and started crying.
My heart was thumping.
“Are you hurt?” I asked.
Ralph held his hand over one eye. He was crying in pain.
I led him out of the room to the office. I had no choice; I had to leave the class alone.
I left him with the principal and rushed back to class.
Michael was seated, looking subdued.
I was shaking. A boy was hurt during my watch.
Suri raised her hand. “I want to show you my story.”
I tried to smile and continue with the lesson.
At the end of class, the principal stopped by the room.
“Mrs. Perlman, you will have to fill out an accident report. Ralph was sent home and he may need stitches.”
My hand shook as I filled out the form. I was going to be fired. Of course they would fire a teacher who let a boy get so badly hurt right in front of her right during her lesson.
Driving home and heading to pick up the girls, I couldn’t get the picture out of my head of Ralph holding his hand over his eye and screaming hysterically.
Oh, why did I ever take that job? Why did I ever think I could be a teacher or a literacy consultant? Would Ralph be okay? I prayed. “Please Hashem. Please heal Ralph.”
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishing 2021), Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers 2020), Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, and “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022).