“That’s f’ed up.” She tells us and we all begin to stifle snickers, knowing that this isn’t supposed to be funny, that it’s serious and important.
I’ve never heard a teacher curse before, or almost curse, so it’s enough of a first for me to be in shock, even as I watch her stand before me, in tears.
She cursed, she cursed.
I know that whatever any of us do next, she will be mad. If we laugh she will think we don’t take her seriously, when in truth we take her too seriously. We are the little children watching the infomercial and eating every bit of it up. We are the little children saying, “Mommy can we buy it?” We are the adults listening to the campaign speech and believing every word even if it’s impossible.
What happens if we don’t laugh? What if we all stay still as if there were a bee circling us as we eyed it tentatively? She’ll be insecure, she’ll be angry, us staring at her as she tells us stories of her childhood.
She is the person I wish I were, twenty years in the future. She accepts her flaws, she accepts her past, she accepts that she didn’t fit in. She moves past it. All she has to do now is hope that we can too, and that we can make things better for the people like her of our generation.
She knows that we are all staring at her, hanging on her every word. She is un-phased, she is nothing more than a celebrity reacting to paparazzi waiting outside her house, stalking her every move. She stares at us staring back at her, frowning and she questions our integrity. She wonders how we’re all treating each other, she knows what it’s like to be our age, miserable, rumors spreading like glue, sticking to everyone. She tells us that we can tell her anything, and so we all do. We trust her, she is not a guidance counselor giving us a false sense of hope, she is merely an adult, letting us know that she’s listening.
And that’s all we need.
Age 12, Grade 7
Hunter College High School