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looking up

December 19, 2012

part of my professional responsibilities at the school where i work include proctoring semester exams.  we affectionately call these extra tasks “bonus opportunities.”  so here i am, taking advantage of a bonus opportunity, confined to a quiet classroom of freshmen english students, diligently working away in their exam packets.

they’re scratching their heads and brushing pencil eraser shreds from their papers.  they’re furrowing their brows and fidgeting in their chairs.  they’re sniffling and wincing and using their little 15-year-old brains.  seriously, they’re 15-years-old.  i know because one of the boys is celebrating his birthday today and i asked him how old he is.  and then i asked them all to call me ms. r.  i felt old.  they look so young.

it seems like just yesterday i was sitting in their molded plastic seats.  though my behind sank into cold, hard public school plastic seats.  not these cushy, ergonomic, expensive plastic independent school seats.  they were all more than a little antsy before the exam started and i felt like sharing a rhinestone of wisdom my principals of american democracy teacher used to share:

the only place your eyes should look for help are toward the ceiling.  only god can help you.

he was not a religious or spiritual man, but a regular pleat-front-khakis-wearing american history teacher.  he didn’t say it sarcastically and it wasn’t preachy.  i remember thinking how clever and good-spirited his suggestion was.

their heads, eyeballs included, are buried in their computers now as they complete the essay portion of the exam.  they’re planted in their plastic chairs, while i survey the room from a squeaky, swivel number at the front.  they look so young, i feel so old.  they look down, i look up.

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