The Human Pretzel

My hip was hurting last night and even after a couple of Ibuprofen I still slept poorly. The pain is the result of a 15 second classroom melodrama:

One moment I was asking Kenny to wash his hands. The next he was thrashing around on the floor screaming, “No! No! No!” like soap and water were torture devises from the Spanish Inquisition. He flung himself against my shins. I lost my balance and grabbed for the bookcase. It teetered. I flailed some more and grabbed for the easel. It tottered. I flailed some more.

I tried to step forward to regain my balance. Kenny rolled forward as well. Now I was off balance with one foot on the floor and nowhere to step. I was going to fall on a four year-old child. Unless — I jumped.

And landed on his hand. I made the step as large as I could. I put only my toes on the ground and it was my heel that touched him, so he felt very little pressure. Luckily I was wearing tennis shoes and the soles were soft. I didn’t leave a mark on his hand — not even any dirt — but he shrieked like he was dying.

I stopped with my feet spread dang near two yards apart, hanging by my fingernails from the edge of the desk with one hand, with my other hand on the floor and my butt in the air, I looked down and snapped, “Enough!” He stared at me in open-mouthed surprise. “Are you trying to kill me?” I demanded.

Kenny looked up at me indignantly. “You hurted me!” he wailed.

Of course. How foolish of me. The whole incident was clearly my fault. After all, I took the job in pre-K.

Washing Paper Plates

Life in a second language learner’s classroom:  

We are having a fund raiser spaghetti dinner at the school tonight.  The teachers are to be the wait-staff.  One of my students asked, “What’s wait-staff?”  I said, “You know, cooks, waiters, dishwashers — the folks that do the work so all you have to do is sit and eat.”

“Dishwashers!”  Jimmy exclaimed.  “You’re going to wash paper plates!?”

Before I could answer Jake chimed in, “Gross!  They’d better wash my plate or I’m not eating!”

The class cracked up laughing. Jake looked around in surprise.  Jimmy pulled a sheet of paper from his notebook and waved it him.  “Paper, Jake!  The plate is going to be made of paper!”

Jake looked at me and demanded incredulously, “We have to eat off paper?” At this point his classmates were all but rolling on the floor laughing and he was edging toward defensive.

I went to the cupboard and pulled out a paper plate.  I handed it to Jake.  He turned bright red and said, “Oh.”  Then he exclaimed, “Well why didn’t somebody just say so?”

Jimmy put his face in his hands and muttered, “Oi vey!”


Yesterday as my second Parent-Teacher Conference was coming to an end, I rose from my chair and froze, half in and half out, with a catch in my back.   I could not finish standing.  I could not sit.  The pain was like a needle in my lower spine.  I put my hands flat on the table and used my arms to straighten me out.

After that I had 6 more Parent-Teacher Conferences, then I came home to do my back stretching exercises.  They require me getting down on the floor.  This is all good and well if the exercises take the kink out.  It is not so good when they don’t.  Yesterday they didn’t.  Getting up off the floor wasn’t pretty.

I took an Aleve and put myself to bed.  One Aleve only took the edge off the pain.  Twinges and spasms woke me every time I moved.  Add to that a couple dozen bad dreams, probably pain induced, and you get a picture of a very bad night.   About 5 a.m. I shifted just a millimeter to ease the pain, and my back popped.  Now the pain is a residual ebbing tide as my muscles relax.

Pain is a wearing sort of thing.  It saps energy.  That is why I didn’t post yesterday.  Plus, this chair is not particularly comfortable when I am in fine form.  Already it is warning me to get up and move.