Cindy braced herself as she heard the thunderous pound of girls feet run up the stairs to the classroom. She eyed the clock. “Two more hours,” she whispered, “and I am out of here.” She needed the break from school and tonight’s commitment was the last thing that stood in the way of her four hour drive home.
With this being the last Wednesday before Christmas, the girls knew that Cindy had planned something fun. Cindy promised a special project they could give as a gift. For the next ninety minutes she would experience pure chaos.
The girls burst into the room and their excitement escalated when they saw what Cindy had prepared for them. On two long tables Cindy had organized canning jars, fabric, ribbon, large bowls of various dry ingredients, and measuring utensils.
“Look but don’t touch,” Cindy held her hands up to hold back the excited pre-teens. “Tonight we will make Cookie Mix in a Jar.”
The girls chattered as they headed to wash their hands. Latisha stepped up to Cindy and slipped her warm mocha colored hand into Cindy’s. Cindy smiled at her and Latisha’s left dimple immediately rewarded the young teacher.
“I like your beads.” Cindy ran her fingers through the row of braided beads across Latisha’s forehead.
“Mom had fun doing my hair.” The beads made a clickety sound as she wiggled her head. Latisha’s free hand stroked Cindy’s arm.
Latisha cared for her two younger sisters while her mom worked swing-shift at the nursing home. Wednesday’s had become her favorite night of the week. She could drop the girls off in the younger class and know they were safe.
“Before we begin I need to give you some instructions.” Cindy waited until she had eight pairs of eyes on her. “Each ingredient has an instruction card in front of it. Just go down the table and follow the directions carefully.”
Soon the room was filled with noisy excitement. Cindy helped with measurements here and there, but for the most part let the girls do everything. Flour and sugar spilled everywhere. When everyone finished, the girls were sliding on the flour covered linoleum floor.
Cindy could see that things were about to get dangerously out of hand. She popped their favorite CD in and gathered everyone in a circle. “Christine, start us off,” Cindy’s head began to bob in rhythm.
Christine stepped into the middle and began to move to the music. Her ballet experience showed through as she gracefully executed her own style to the Christian hip-hop music. After a bit, she tagged her friend, Allie.
The girls laughed at Allie’s robot moves. The flour all over the floor assisted her in a very smooth moonwalk as she tagged the next girl to try her moves. Nikki’s tomboy frame made some goofy attempts before she quickly tagged Cindy.
The girls cheered as Cindy stepped into the circle bobbing her head to the beat. Dancing was certainly not her forte` so a bit of clowning around with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth and her head constantly doing a jerk-bob brought on the giggles.
Cindy moved in front of Latisha. With her arms crossed over her chest, Latisha just shook her beaded head and rolled her eyes.
“Oh, Girlfriend, you don’t even want to know how bad you look.”
“Well, Li’l Sis,” Cindy winked and tagged Latisha, “Show us how it’s done.”
“Y’all dance like white girls,” Latisha teased as she stepped into the circle.
The girls all began to hoot and holler as Latisha busted out her moves. The sassy look she gave Cindy as she performed warmed Cindy’s heart to the core. She had come to love her girls so much, especially Latisha.
The horn honked on the church van and the girls quickly gathered their jars and hurried out the door. Suddenly feeling exhausted, Cindy turned to face the mess.
“Oh man,” Cindy whispered to the empty room, “I’ll never get out of here. What was I thinking?”
Cindy heard someone run up the stairs, and glanced around to see what they may have forgotten. Latisha burst into the classroom and threw her arms around Cindy’s waist.
“Thank-you. Merry Christmas,” Latisha looked up at Cindy with moist brown eyes. “I love you.”
Cindy held her close, glanced at the mess, and fiddled with Latisha’s beads. “I love you, too, Li’l Sis.”
She decided that the ninety minutes of chaotic joy had been worth it all.
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