It was a foggy September morning. Mrs. Rathje wondered which student would recall that seldom-used weather word. “I noticed something different about the weather on my way to work today,” she hinted. “Blake, you’re raising your hand. What is the weather word I’m thinking of?”
Blake looked puzzled. “Mrs. Waffge, wheh do you wook?”
Mrs. Rathje’s kindergarteners thought the custodian was the only person at the school who worked, since he wore a tool belt and was often seen carrying a ladder. However, by the end of that foggy September day, Mrs. Rathje was exhausted. Flopping onto her bed she reasoned out loud. “Maybe it’s time to retire!”
The teacher sat up and began brushing her hair, but the brush caught and pulled, sending her to the mirror. Her hair was a sticky mess! Earlier that day, after snacks, Tony had passed her desk on his way to the trash can. He must have squeezed the Go-gurt tube he carried, because green slime suddenly shot out, splattering her hair and face and dripping down her glasses. She had felt like crying, but laughed along with the class instead. After all, what could be funnier than the teacher dripping with green goop? She needed a shower.
In the steamy shower the day’s events swirled through her mind like that morning’s fog…
“Ow! I didn’t realize how hard Aiden kicked my lip. He didn’t mean to, he just needed help crossing the monkey bars at recess. He was trying so hard! He will be elated when he finally does it on his own.”
“Will I ever get this class to line up after recess? Cole and Zach took their time getting off the climber as Cara and Maya wandered toward the swings. Meanwhile, Mark and Gretchen ran inside. I’m surprised that Brandon cooperated, considering how he lunged at his mom, nearly knocking her down. I could hardly believe his mother's reply when I reminded them to be quiet in the hallway as they left. ‘I can control myself, but not my son!’”
“Matthew, however, IS uncontrollable! He yanked poor Emily to the floor by her hair, which landed him in the principal’s office. I hope his parents follow through on the recommendations Mr. Doyle and I drafted for them today. Matthew needs a thorough evaluation.”
“Mr. Doyle was sympathetic when I told him that six-year-old Elijah, who is not yet toilet trained, dirtied his pants for the third time today. We wrote a letter to Elijah’s parents, too.”
“I wonder when my new student will warm up to us. She didn’t say one word today. Her mom can barely speak English. Maybe Habiba can’t speak English, either. ‘Lord, show me how to help her feel loved and accepted.’”
“Melodee never stops talking, but she is hard to understand. She and Blake will start speech therapy tomorrow. Before skipping out the door today, Melodee proudly wiggled her loose tooth. I’ll look for a gap in her smile tomorrow…”
Mrs. Rathje’s thoughts returned to the present as she stepped out of the shower. She dried off, donned her bathrobe, and headed for the kitchen. On the counter, a red paper plate held six cupcakes, each decorated with a frosting apple. Poking out of the apples were gummy worms. Attached to the plate was a note. It read:
Dear Mrs. Rathje,
Jenny helped make these “wormy apple cupcakes” for you.
She loves school, and she loves you. We are so thankful for you!
We pray for you and the class every day. Teaching is a difficult job
and you do it so well!
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson
As Mrs. Rathje read the note, a tear fell, splashing on the signature. It was only September. By October the class would surely learn to line up. Aiden would zip across the monkey bars and and Habiba would have at least one friend. By January Brandon and Matthew would be gaining self-control and Blake’s and Melodee’s speech would improve. Surely Elijah would be toilet trained. By May they would all know their letters, numbers, and days of the week. Mrs. Rathje would applaud as they sounded out their first words, and exclaim as they wrote their first wobbly letters on lined paper.
Retire? Mrs. Rathje was overworked, and at times underappreciated, but she couldn’t think of a job with richer benefits.
“Lord, thank you for five-year-olds and wormy apple cupcakes,” she prayed. “They sure have wiggled their way into this teacher’s heart!”
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