I Don't Have a Breakdown

There were about ten minutes left in my third period class. It had been a good day so far; we'd had a quiz and were in the midst of my scintillating lecture on parliamentary procedure.

The weather had been getting progressively bad throughout the day, and we were just beginning to hear the rumblings of thunder.

And then the lights went out.

This would not ordinarily be a big deal, except ... I am afraid of the dark. And man, was it DARK.

I didn't know what to do. So I didn't do anything. I froze.

I got someone to put the shade up a little, but the sky was green outside, like a tornado was coming, so I didn't want it up too much. I went out in the hall, where the emergency lights are, and started breathing again. With the electricity out, the kids thought we should immediately get out of school. I pointed out that it was unlikely that the administration would send them home in this weather, and then there was lots of talk of tornadoes and I had to calm everybody down. I was surprised that they responded, like I was talking in a normal tone, because in my head I was screeching and gasping and was totally the OPPOSITE of normal.

I plopped myself in a chair next to the window, though by this time my room was bright with the lights of cell phones. That helped. We don't get cell service in the building, but standing by a window can help get a text message through. I texted my mom: "I AM AT SCHOOL THE LIGHTS ARE OUT WE ARE STUCK"

She wrote back: "GO TO THE HOUSE YOU CAN PARK IN THE GARAGE" (This is because we are all very afraid that my new car will get hail damage in a storm, like my last car did). There is a generator at my parents' house; the lights would be on. It was tempting.



My mom does not beat around the bush.

I sat in the dark, next to the window, for about twenty minutes. The only really bad time was when one student leaned in front of the window to send a text message and I had to tell her, very calmly, "B, you are blocking the light and you have to stop that because I am fixing to freak out." There may have been some hyperventilation in there somewhere.

Of course some of my kids thought it was hiLARious, their teacher being afraid of the dark. But I said, "So what? I'm not ashamed." And they got back to minding their own business and I pretended I was a teacher.

The lights did come on again, and class was dismissed, and I took the six minutes between bells to have a dizzy spell which forced me to sit down with my head on my desk. Probably my fourth period early-birds thought I was dead.

I don't have children, and I have maybe emotionally adopted my students as kid stand-ins. But I totally felt protective of them today, like I wanted them to feel completely safe, even though I personally was having a bit of a crisis. And, in a way, that made me feel like a real teacher.

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