Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Extreme Substituting

At 5:30, bleary eyed and still half dreaming, I accepted a job for half a day of kindergarten. Ninety minutes later, I climbed into brown dressy/churchy/worky pants, a pink and brown business looking shirt, and brown slip on, loafer-style shoes. Trust me, the importance of the attire will be explained later. At 7:50 I waved goodbye to the child who was racing me down the street. (I, in my car. He, in his Vans--surfer hair flying as he ran, waving.)

At 8:00 I checked in and was informed that the teacher I claimed to be subbing for only taught in the afternoon. I immediately pulled out my phone to show the secretary that I was right. I can do that now. The increase in my cell phone bill proves it. Before I could even turn it on though, she was on her phone.

"Hello?" came the voice clearly through the receiver.

"Who is this?" asked the secretary.

"Christy," the voice replied. That was the first name of the person I was supposed to sub for. What that meant was still a mystery to me.

"Oh. You're here. There's a sub here and I just now remembered that you're going on a field trip today. Do you need her?"


"Yes. I can't go. I was vomiting my brains out all night long. Send her down."

No! I'm so sorry. While I don't know what it's like to vomit one's brains out all night long, I am intimately acquainted with throwing one's stomach contents, all the bile there ever was, and possibly a spleen out all night and into the live long day. But I do not want to be sent down to catch (and thus experience) it again for myself.

The secretary hung up the phone. "Did you know you're going to the zoo?"

Yes, as a matter of fact, I always wear slip on loafer shoes to the zoo. I always wear dress pants. I always carry a large purse. And I leave my lunch at home because I think I'm going to be finished with this job by noon.

"I did not," I replied.

"Oh. Well. You're going to the zoo!"

I walked down the hall. "Hi," I said to the teacher who was sitting at her desk looking peakish in a red hoodie, her hair tied up in a messy ponytail. "I'm sorry you were throwing up all night." Because, you know, I genuinely was.

"You heard that?" she sounded mortified. "It just came on so suddenly. There's no way I can go to the zoo today. Oh. So. You're going on a field trip."

This was no longer news to me but was not, in fact, a thrilling piece of information. Being in charge of almost two dozen kindergartners ON A FIELD TRIP is not my idea of a good time. Add to that the fact that I would be wrangling kids I'd never met before IN BROWN SLIP ON SHOES AT THE ZOO and we had a recipe for disaster.

"Come over here and I'll explain everything," she said.

No. No. No. I will stand over here, a good, safe distance from ALL THE PLAGUE-LIKE THINGS YOU HAVE GOING ON OVER THERE. Just shout the directions to me from your desk. I'm fine where I am.

I walked to her anyway. I'm obedient like that. I tried not to breathe because, seriously, I doubt that woman's "up all night vomiting out brain matter and whatnot" has anything on me. I'VE LAID ON THE FLOOR OF AN AIRPLANE LAVATORY AND THROWN UP OVER INTERNATIONAL WATERS!

"Another teacher will be here. She teaches in the morning. I do the afternoon. You'll all meet in here. These parents are going," she handed me plague infested index cards which she referred to as Post-It notes but I knew it was just the lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of water talking. "Mark whoever is absent on this and send it to the office. Make sure each parent has the lunches for the kids they are responsible for. You'll do great. Have fun. Goodbye." She said a few more words, obviously, but that was the gist.

There should be a game show called Extreme Substituting because I would win ALL THE POINTS. And the bonus round. I mean, last year a kid took his pants off and today I was thrown into a river of demented piranhas and told to swim upstream. A COUPLE DOZEN KINDERGARTNERS. THE ZOO. AND ABOUT A FIVE MINUTE WARNING.

I had a brief daymare involving children being maimed by lions thus resulting in my being asked never to return to another substitute position ever again for the rest of my life. The bell rang, shaking me out of my horror story. I opened the door and welcomed the children in.

Except, as I soon learned, they weren't mine. They were the morning class. My kids stood outside for another five minutes. Parents looked bewildered. I tried taking roll with the wrong class. The other teacher finally came in.

"Hi! So everyone needs one of these," she handed me a bag of badges that proudly displayed the name of the school." While she called her own student's names, I attempted to figure out which parents belonged to my class. Turns out two of the parents I was supposed to have decided not to show up. I quickly started shifting names around on the VERY IMPORTANT LOOKING DOCUMENT. I called parents the wrong names after they'd told me half a dozen times. I thought the girl named Elliot was a boy with long hair. I finally managed to figure out which kids were absent and which were present and hand them off to their (re)designated parent.

"Should we take this with us?"

"Does he need that?"

"When we get there you need to take our zoo passes and our IDs and take care of getting all of us in."

"Can we switch? I know she would be happier with me and he'd be happier with his buddy."

I don't care. I so do not care. I am sure the teacher put a great deal of time and effort into these groups but I have never met them before in my life and I just do not care.

"Sure," I said. "Just let me change it on here." It's a good thing I'm a very organized individual who prides herself on not losing kids at the zoo. A lesser sub would have crumbled under the pressure and been found sucking her thumb under the flu infested desk. I'm not entirely sure why no one has handed me a teaching license yet. One of these days I'm sure I'll find it in the mail.

Dear Mrs. Doozleberry,

Here is your license. We know you do not have the proper schooling but, well, a kid took his pants off and then you had approximately thirty seconds to get organized for a field trip you didn't know you were taking. Enjoy your credential and the upgrade in pay.

Yours Truly,
The Utah Educator's Association (or whoever it is that gives those things out)

Once on the bus, the other teacher told me I needed to count noses. I cry-whispered under my breath, "But I don't know which noses are mine." Eventually, we tag teamed it and I was able to make sure that all of my kids had their noses accounted for.

At the zoo, I managed to get all the appropriate parents and students inside by handing several IDs and passes over to the nice zoo worker man guy. I even got the IDs back to their rightful owners. After that, I had almost three peaceful hours, chatting with the other teachers, walking around the zoo (in inappropriate shoes), and taking pictures of elephants to show my first grader. (Look what I did today--AND I GOT PAID!)

We made it back on the bus--every last one of us. No one was attacked by a bear, even. The parents were all really great and helpful. The kids had fun. And no one took his pants off. In case you're wondering, I pretty much measure the success of all days by whether or not someone takes off his pants.

Now all I have to do is sit back and wait to catch the flu.

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