The Year I Nearly Lost My Mind

The Year I Nearly Lost My Mind

I had been teaching for nearly seven years and I thought I was an expert. The principal asked me to take the second and third grades because she didn’t have enough teachers. I said ok. I can do that. Those four little words were the worst words I have ever spoken in my life.
The second grade teacher got rid of the students she disliked the most. She got rid of the ones that were driving her up the walls. They were a wretched little group of rejects. The first grade teacher passed them on because she was the only first grade teacher and she didn’t want to see them again. It was only four of them. Three boys and a pathetic little girl, I cheerfully welcome them all. The year had already started and we were off to a good start. How disruptive could they be?
I soon found out. One little boy who lived with foster parents, would lay prostrate on the floor and yell out boorishness. Another always wanted to fight. The other little boy was just bad to the bone. The little girl was quiet. In fact, I could barely get her to say anything at all. God above knows I tried everything I knew to reach those children.
Without my husband’s consent, I started house calling. Most of my children lived in the South town Projects. As winter drew nearer and nearer, at four thirty and five o’clock it was dark. My husband pitched a fit. He insisted that I get home before dark. One night I showed up at the little girl’s house. I discovered her mother was going out of town and leaving her with her big brother who was only ten. I then understood why the little girl was noise less.

The little boy who would lay prostrate on the floor came in one Friday and laid his head on his desk. He remained quiet all morning. Ultimately his quietness got the best of me and I asked what was wrong. He said oh, nothing. My mother died and we are going to have a big party. People have been bringing in lots of good food. They are bringing in more food than I have ever seen in my life. We are going to have a good time. The next Friday he came in crying. I ask, was the funeral too sad for him? He answered oh, no. The courts are thinking about sending me back to my birth mother and my father’s folk are protesting. They only want me for the money. The courts will pay someone to keep me.
The child I thought was bad to bones was acting so badly one day I threaten to call his father. Usually that would get him to behave but this particular day it did not. He persisted with his bad behavior. In order to keep in good standing with the other members of the class, I called his father. His father came and told him to take off his shirt. He was not going to whip clothes he had to buy. The child took off his shirt and reveal there were old slashes all over his back. I grabbed the father’s arm and told him I could not stand there and watch him beat his child. He told me to close my eyes. He had gotten off of his job and he was going to beat somebody. I had to think quickly. I knew if he tried to beat me he was going to be a dead man.
We were out in the hall. Not to embarrass the child in front of the class if he had to get a whipping. I said: Sir, I’m going to let you go with a warning. The police will put you under the jail if they see the slashes on this child. Don’t you ever whip him with your belt again! The father put his belt on and walked away. I grabbed the child and wept. From that day on, he was my friend.

One day the little girl became defiant. She would not do anything I ask her to do. In anger I grabbed her and dragged her down to the office. I asked the school’s secretary to call her mother. The school principal not knowing what had happened saw my hand print on the child and told her mother to come see what the teacher had done. The mother said she was coming with the police. I said: good, I wanted to talk to the police about her leaving the children and going out of town. She came and no one ever told me she was there. The next day they moved. I am not sure where.
I heard, when the boy that loved to fight turned nineteen, he went to prison for killing a man. I was told, when he went to court he told the judge he wanted to see a man die. The other years I taught were not as dramatic. I hope this little article does not discourage someone from becoming a teacher. It is an honorable profession. America needs good dedicated teachers.

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