Spring storms are setting in here in the Midwest. Some have been pretty violent. I’m not usually afraid of storms but Thursday morning the weatherman on TV was going on and on about a bad one on the way and I was scared to be on the road when it came through. The drive as fine but I knew something was up when I got to school because our secretary was sitting in the car talking on the phone and she’s usually been there for an hour by the time I get there. I walked into a dark school building with a light coming toward me. “I’m heading for the light” I joked with my coworker who had the flashlight.
You have to understand, my school has NO windows. I don’t know who would design a school like this but it was darker than a closet in there. Classes couldn’t go to their classrooms with zero light so all the kids were gathered in the dark gym and it was a ZOO in there. You really couldn’t see a hand in front of your face. Some teachers had flashlights or lights on their phones but it was a huge, dark as night gym so each light seems like just a tiny star. The superintendent and our principal were arguing, practically shouting at each other. Principal wanted to call off school while Superintendent wanted to stick it out and hope that the power would come back on. “You can just have story time” she said. I wanted to tell her to show us how to have “story time” in a pitch black gym with 400 kids who were scared and didn’t know what was happening. They were pretty well behaved considering the situation. Most of them were sitting on the floor with their class.
My job became to ferry groups of 3 or 4 boys at a time to the bathroom and hold the flashlight around the corner while not “looking”. I must have made 20 trips back and forth. Finally after about 2 hours of sitting in the dark, the principal called off school against the superintendents wishes and parents started coming to pick up their kids. Of course the power came shortly after that and the superintendent screamed “I told you so” at the principal. The teachers were able to take what kids were left to the classrooms and then my job became greeting parents at the door, asking who they were there for and getting the kid from the classroom. Good thing I had my walking shoes on that day.
We had a meeting after all the kids went home and we were all commended for our calm team work and told there would be a new protocol in place in case something like this should happen again. Also, although we had to finish the school day we were given a long lunch which was nice. They both acted pretty unprofessional in my opinion. Of course if it was up to me school would have been canceled at 5:30 a.m. when the power initially went out and they were told it may be out for 5 hours or more. The superintendent wanted to take a big gamble that it would come back on. If I had a kid in that zoo for two hours, I would have been furious. I’ve never seen my principal that worked up…she’s usually very calm and nothing shakes her.
Friday was our last day of preforming The L.orax. Before school, the director/librarian gave me two photos, one of the entire cast and one of the directors. As I looked at myself in the photo, I remarked that I’ve gained so much weight since the babies died. My compassionate friend looked me in the eyes and said, “You know what….it’s OK” It made me cry. Is IS ok…I know that, but it was a difficult day after that. I just kept thinking how my life is wrecked and there’s no going back. Losing a child makes such a hollowness inside…I’ll never be whole again. Will I ever be healed enough to care about myself again?
Such a weird dicotomy… even while experiencing those feelings and having a tough time emotionally I did enjoy the last performances. The second graders had such a great reaction when our b.arbaloots, s.wameeswans and h.umming fish came out. They “ohhh”ed and you could tell they thought it was magical. One of the teachers teared up. The superintendent was there too and she gave me a big smile and thumbs up afterwards.
After the final performance we had a good session of sharing how they felt after working so hard and if they’d like to do something like this again. Then, we presented them with little certificates and photos. When each child’s name was called all the others clapped and we laughed and inside jokes. The children then presented the three directors with cards I’d helped them make and little presents. Then…we partied. Which in a grade school means cookies, juice and dancing to L.orax music. It’s been so fun and rewarding seeing the kids work hard and grow. Their relationships with each other grew too and I hope they remember forever the proud feeling of hard work and friendship.