Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tales of A Substitute Teacher: BOY NOT
Last Thursday, I was certain that my virgin tour of the faculty lounge would be a high point of my day. I wasn’t expecting massaging recliners or a complimentary espresso bar. I was just planning on being inspired by a place about which I had always wondered and never had the offical right to use.
This virgin visit, however, was upstaged by an episode that happened a bit earlier in the classroom. Plain and simple -- I made a big mistake and dwelled on it the whole day long... and then some.
I thought that a girl was actually a boy and I referred to her as “He.” Some of the kids corrected me. “He? She!” they said, but in that moment it didn't register. I repeated “He.” They repeated, “He? She!”
Then I got it.
And in that split second I found clues that I had overlooked... or had never looked for in the first place. I spied a pink bag strap peering out from behind her stocky frame. I noticed breasts which could have easily been mistaken for a few extra pounds of flesh.
My body was heating up, filling with embarrassment. I looked at her and apologized, attempting to recover. I offered a few excuses. The girl seemed more resilient than me. She let me know that I was not the first to be mistaken. This was her way of forgiving me, and, though I was thankful for that, my carelessness weighed heavily for the rest of the day.
I learned that it is better to address an individual by name rather than by a pronoun. Actually, that is something my mother has reiterated through the years and I finally got it.