Writing the Self 3: Big, Strong Boys
As I sat in my desk, I listened to Mrs. Clark describe how excited she is to finally watch our performance tonight. For nearly three months, we had been working, relentlessly, on our songs for the Christmas Concert with our lovely music teacher, Miss. Evans. Mrs. Clark, our grade 3 homeroom teacher, seemed to be looking forward to hearing us sing, but I felt quite the opposite about the upcoming event. Anxiety washed over me when I imagined myself on stage. There was a good chance the whole town would be attending the concert and rows of chairs would fill the floor space of the big gym. The thought of all those eyes on me caused my cheeks to warm and I had no doubt they were sporting some shade of red, by now. What if I screw up or forget the words? I could lip synch, but there was no avoiding my solo line. In an attempt to calm my nerves, I passed my rough, pink eraser back and forth in my hands.
Eventually, Mrs. Clark changed the subject and I was grateful. She informed us it was reading time and that seemed more like something I would consider exciting. Unfortunately, I barely made it halfway down the first page of my new favourite Junie B. Jones book, before a knock on the classroom door stole my attention. The faces of all my classmates, including my own, turned to the wooden door as it swung open to reveal everyone’s favourite staff member. Our janitor, Mr. Cooper, stood with a big smile on his face. “Good morning, Mrs. Clark and good morning, grade threes. It’s so nice to see everyone’s smiling faces,” his cheerful voice addressed the class.
“How can we help you today, Mr. Cooper?” asked Mrs. Clark
“If you wouldn’t mind, I could use the help of three strong boys. We need to set up all the chairs in the big gym and clear all the heavy equipment off the stage for tonight.”
Almost all of the twenty boys in my class raised their hands eagerly. This has happened lots before. Mr. Cooper often needs some assistance with some sort of heavy-lifting around the school. The boys around me waved their arms, begging and hoping Mrs. Clark would pick them and they could avoid reading time. I was happy Mr. Cooper only ever wanted the boys to help him. I loved reading time, and I never wanted to miss anything important during class time. I knew most of the boys in my class were quite strong; they almost always did more push-ups in gym class than any of the girls. Mrs. Clark chose Ben, Will, and Johnny. Her last choice caused me to stifle my laughter. Johnny was not strong, at all and Mr. Cooper asked for strong boys. Heck, even I could beat Johnny in an arm wrestle, and I’m a girl.