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Rain on the Ninth Day

"A strange coincidence on the 9th day of the semester."

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I love rainy days. I find them romantic. How many romantic films and romantic comedies have a scene where the couple kisses or professes their love in the rain? Even my own husband proposed to me in the rain because I told him I thought kissing in the rain was romantic.

Teaching elementary school almost made me hate rainy days. The kids are trapped inside all day, and often the teachers don’t get more than a bathroom break, even at lunch. Some schools will keep the kids for thirty minutes so the teachers will at least get time to eat and, as I tell the kids, “take care of their bathroom business.”

Middle school is altogether different. You don’t go on an “inclement weather schedule.” Only the PE classes are affected, and they usually have a gymnasium to use, or the classroom of a teacher who is on prep. Most of the time, the rain only causes an issue with kids getting to and from school, especially those who walk, ride a bike or a skateboard. The lucky ones have a family member or family friend who can give them a ride home.

So, on the ninth day of school, it rained. Late summer storms aren’t unusual for where I live, and are often refreshing due to the heat we must endure. I teach at a middle school with a six period day, and I teach English five out of six periods. I should say, this is my first year at this school, I transferred from an elementary school (and not just to avoid the rainy day schedule.)

Like most teachers, I spend the first couple of weeks getting to know my kids. I had gotten a feel for most, but was still learning who was who. During my last class of the day, I heard one female student say to another female student, “Bitch!”

I get they are middle schoolers. I get they are learning how to use profanity and when to use it, but I also came from an elementary school where hearing a first grader swearing wasn’t uncommon (and I so wish I was joking about this.) I started to remind the young lady about the proper use of language in my classroom, when the two girls stood up and began fighting.

Now, when boys fight you can separate them, and they’ll calm down (usually.) However, girls will go through anyone in their way for the object of their rage. Being a woman, I know this. Which is why I ran to the phone to call for help. I have the phone list stapled on the wall by my phone for just such emergencies. Of course, it takes me a moment or two to find the correct number for our school’s dean.

Meanwhile, the teacher next door hears the ruckus and sends the other teacher who’s in her room to find out what is wrong. He breaks up the fight and removes one of the girls. Another teacher arrives just as I dial the right number yelling at me about the fight. I just handed her the phone because at that moment, I was sure I would be packing up my desk soon enough.

Turns out one of the girls was on probation, and was thus expelled. The other was transferred to another school. I never saw either one after that day. I realized after they were removed their personal belongings were still in my room. The expelled student flew back in just as I had gathered her things. I handed them to her and asked her to leave. The other girl never returned so I took her things to the Dean’s office. She saw me and apologized for scaring me. I was sad to lose her.

I waited for several days to have my ass chewing, but it never came. I wasn’t told to pack up my desk. After a while, it was a running joke that only I would have the first fight of the year in my classroom.

Fast forward to second semester. On the ninth day of semester two, it was raining. The coincidence is uncanny. I’m also on a rotating schedule so every day we start and end with a different period. It does take some getting used to, but once you do, it’s pretty easy. I was with my last class of the day, not the same class I had my last fight in though. Sadly though, it would not end any better.

It started with a boy coming in late and showing me his pass. Another boy made a snide comment about his mom, and he responded in kind. If middle schoolers know anything, it’s how to get under the skin of someone else by talking trash about their parents or siblings. It doesn’t matter if their parent is a mass murder, their sibling makes their lives miserable, if someone talks trash about this person, the potential for a fight is on. So, when it was clear the boys wouldn’t let it go, I sent them both to the Dean’s office.

I wasn’t happy. I had been scolded for sending too many kids to the Dean’s office already for things they felt I should have dealt with in the classroom. Mind you, I work in a Title 1 school, which means I have a lot of students living in poverty, who qualify for free and reduced lunch. I tried to press on and move forward with what we had to do, including taking a short vocabulary quiz. Getting things back to normal is what is best for all, even me. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

I have a boy, a boy I’ve struggled to work with all year. I had a teacher get after me about him and after I told that man off, (in my defense, he was being a jerk to me) I decided to try a different approach with the boy. For a long time, I thought I was making progress… until this day. I heard him say, “I’m going to kick your ass if you don’t quit talking shit!”

I’m not a hundred percent sure if said, “ass” or “fucking ass,” only that he was very angry and swearing up a storm. There were three boys in the ‘area’ where he was launching his threats. In an effort to “work” with him, I offered to let him step out for a moment to cool down. He said he’d only go if “he” came out too. I said that wasn’t going to happen. Mind you, I still had no clue who he was angry with.

More threats flew so I told the boy to leave and go to the Dean’s office. He refused so I started to call to have him removed for the safety of the boy he was threatening, and the rest of my class. Just as the phone began to ring, he left. I told the Dean’s secretary he was coming, as was the referral. My nerves were shot. I did confirm the identity of the boy of his rage. Then, I moved on.

We reviewed the homework and watched a student created video before the quiz. While my class watched the video, the Dean came by and spoke with the other boy. After a few minutes, the boy returned and took the quiz with the rest of the class. While the kids took their quiz, I wrote the referral and fought back the tears.

I came home wanting nothing more than to dive into a bottle of tequila and forget how lousy my day ended. Instead, I was greeted with a warm hug and five purple tulips from my wonderful husband. It was too much and I burst into tears. My husband held me tight as I wept. When I finally calmed down, I shared my bad day, and he made us dinner. By then, I didn’t need the booze, and I had a training to attend the following day so I decided to call it an early night instead.

I still love rainy days. They remind me of the day my husband asked me to be his wife. I still think kissing in the rain is very romantic. And I’d rather be a middle school teacher on a rainy day, than an elementary school teacher. Even with kids fighting on the ninth day of the semester, when it rains.

Why should I let some fools ruin something I love so much?

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