I was doing some cleanup around my desk today when I opened a drawer and noticed something strange. I had used that drawer to stash some cough drops right before Christmas break, but when I looked in the bag this morning it was mostly just wrappers, no drops. Upon closer inspection I realized that the wrappers and cough drops alike had been chewed on by little teeth. I must have a little furry friend living in my classroom. At least he throat is soothed.
This got me thinking about when I first started at my school and a small short story I wrote for one of my co-workers about the experience.
There’s always room for Jell-O
I got lucky the year I started at my school because there was a group of about ten young teachers that started that year as well. We became fast friends and helped each other out a lot. One of the ways we helped each other out is by getting each other’s classes ready for the start of school. When we got to my friend Emily’s room it was an absolute disaster! There were papers stacked on every conceivable surface, and things shoved into every nook and cranny.
When we opened the cabinets we surmised (and I hope to goodness we were correct) that the room use to be used for Home Economics because we found old moldy plates and bowls, napkins, and plastic cutlery. As we dug into the wreckage we began to find more and more interesting jewels and antiques. One of my favorites was a bunch of Jell-O packets with expiration dates from 1981. The most interesting thing found in the top shelf of one of the cabinets was a petrified mouse body that fell on the floor and made the same noise a beautiful crunchy fall leaf makes when stepped on. We asked around to see if the items, including the mouse, belonged to anyone, but no one claimed the items.
At that point we realized that there was no point in salvaging everything and that everything should just be trashed. Emily called in reinforcements and had five boys from her rescue squad come in. She pulled out industrial sized garbage bags and said “Everything must go!” Eleven trash bags later the room was almost ready for her to begin working.
Six months into the semester one of the other teachers in the school came down to her room and asked if she could get the things she left in the room. Upon being told that everything had been thrown out, the teacher threw a three year old tantrum and stormed out. I know the phrase is “There is always room for Jell-O” however in this situation that was simply not true.
I hope that many years from now, after I have left the school and someone is tasked with cleaning out my classroom they don't find my furry little friend the same way we found the furry little friend in Emily's room!