This appeared first in my Close to Home column in The Prospect-News, the local weekly paper in Doniphan.MO.
Grass…It needs cut and sometimes watered. It is relegated to yards bordered by fences, alleys, sidewalks and curbs. The insects that roam in it are well-mannered and manageable; the grass is their domain and they seldom venture far from it.
City insects, that is. These rural bugs- bigger and faster and without proper confines- take some getting used to. And they have friends like snakes and turtles and mice and possums that share their borderless kingdom. Mercy! I had to adapt to random abrupt appearances of all kinds of critters when I moved from the city.
Adapting was noisy. Laughter from brother and father at my screams and scrambles thankfully fell on few ears in our rural neighborhood. After a year of critter conditioning I was back in concrete and asphalt habitats for college.
I returned to this “gem in verdure set” to begin my journey in the classroom and learn a new school song and lots of tidbits about education that college professors failed to address. My teaching path that first year did not lead me to one classroom that I called mine; it meandered down this hallway and that to borrow others’ spaces and even across a lot to another building for one tiny class of seven I conducted in a foyer.
Those students clambered up majestic steps through magnificent double doors with time to explore the lofty heights and make friends with the pigeons before I arrived. When we settled down to business in the vestibule, there were seven desks backed against one wall, a chalkboard hastily secured to the facing wall, with just enough space for me in between. As this was the pre- historic era before our schools had air conditioning, it was necessary to keep the huge fan on that was positioned above those magnificent doors.
The eighth grade language arts kids – 6 boys and one girl- cramped in that tiny space probably did not mind that the fan drowned out some of my grammar instruction. They certainly did not mind that it drew in hordes of grasshoppers, easy to catch and within easy toss to teacher’s back. That first year I did not yet have those eyes in the back of my head; survival of the fittest meant I would acquire them in time.
My training in teacher demeanor did not cover coping with students and insects within the same walls at the same time. More screams and scrsmbles from me, laughter from those students. Thank goodness there were only 7.
You can call me an overcomer.