This is a continuation of last week's story for The Red Dress Club writing challenge. You can catch up here, if you like.
Also, the counselor character is a guy. That didn't come across in last week's story, but I'm sticking to it. So the guy in this story? Same counselor person as last week. A guy.
The prompt this week was to write a first-person account of an annoying character/personality.
Because I wear the Red Dress, I welcome constructive critique.
What I Know
I've done this job long enough to learn a few things. Not that people take the time to ask. But believe me, I know things.
Thirty years, I've taught here. Rio Verde Middle School. Of course, back then we called it a Jr. High and it was okay to admit that some kids are left behind.
Now students are treated like celebrities with their IEP plans and 504 plans and accommodations. There's one boy that has to sit right up front because of his hearing aids. I thought kids like that were supposed to be quiet, but not this one. "Hey, Ms. Sombrowski, I hear you are linked to the Al-Gebra Network," he says, and the kids laugh. I don't know what he's talking about. I'm not sure he does either, being handicapped like that.
Then there's this Oriental girl whose parents are getting a divorce. She stomped to my desk one day with a card from the counselor. Her hands were shaking a bit as she handed it to me. It read, "Emergency Session," and explained that I was supposed to let her out of class at any time so she could talk about her feelings.
Do you know what I did? I said, "Girlie, sit down. You're not going anywhere."
She glared at me and stuttered out a "But..." I could tell she was about to say something fresh.
I said, "Watch yourself, girlie. You know why." Her eyes widened as much as an Oriental's eyes can. She nodded once, then slumped back to her seat. She spent the entire hour drawing pictures in her notebook, while I taught linear equations. She'll have to learn it again on her own time.
Of course Sam Jorgensen, that new guidance counselor came in to scold me about that. He waltzed into my classroom, wearing shorts and a baseball cap, and said, "You need to honor her need to talk. She's in a fragile place right now."
I told him, "I'm in a fragile place with my curriculum."
"I hear you say that your curriculum is important to you." I knew what he was doing---trying to treat me like one of his nut jobs. Spare me. I've been teaching longer than he's been alive.
"No," I said, "What's important to me is teaching kids to stand on their own two feet."
"By shaming them?" He paced as he spoke. "By taking them down a notch?" He sat on a desk, rubbed his brow a bit, and took a deep breath. Some hippie yoga thing, probably.
"Look," I said. "I understand that you need to do your job, since parents aren't doing it anymore. But math is too important. Tell her she can come to you during English, or shop."
He opened his mouth like he was going to say something else, then nodded. "Okay." He turned to walk away, then stopped. "While I'm here, let me ask you---do you notice anything going on with Kassie Miller?"
"Which one is she again?"
Right. The vampire who threw a pastry at me. "Did you punish her?"
"Three days of ISS and you'll be getting an apology."
I nodded. "Good."
"So you don't notice anything else unusual?" he asked.
"Besides her note about the abortion?"
He stiffened, and caught his breath. I leaned in, almost whispering, "I've taught for thirty years. Believe me, I know more than you would ever expect."