Ways to Get Worn Out

Sherry Killam, teacher, writer, visual artist.

      Sherry Killam

April brings howling winds that whip through the desert like a bully. That’s one of the ways we get worn out.

Several Yard Duty ladies chase William the Runaway First Grader across two hundred yards of blacktop and dry dirt and have him trapped in a ditch at the edge of the playground.

He’s four feet up the cyclone fence when the principal arrives.

This drama highlights the mid-morning recess. I hear about it when I get to the staff break room at the same time as Maria, who is bundled up in full length down.

I’ve already taken my own fifteen-minute turn at Playground Duty before school this morning, twirling and shivering under a stylish lightweight serape.

Rushing from one corner of the building to another, one squealing basketball court to another, one tether ball pole to another, down to the end of the blacktop and back. Fighting against the wind one way, pushed and pummeled all the way back.

I scan the vacant swings and the monkey bars.  I consider climbing into the yellow tube slide to ride out the recess.  There are already six children linked in there toboggan-style.  Hiding from the wind.

Maria arrives in the Lounge out of breath and heads for the Coke machine.

“That wind is something,” I say.  “Really cold.”

“I’m not cold.  I’m hot!”  Maria reaches into warm pockets for change.  “I been chasing William, all across the field, till we get to the fence.”

Luisa bustles into the room, as flushed and breathless as Maria.  “Yeah, we really got our exercise today.”

“Maybe next time ask one of the older kids to catch him for you,” I offer.

“Oh, I did!  There were a lot of people chasing him.”

Maria and Luisa exit with their sodas to cover the next shift on the playground.

I get a glimpse of a silhouette in the narrow rectangle of light twenty feet away in the school foyer: the windblown principal is hauling something like a sack of potatoes under one arm.

Two more teachers join me at a round table for a hot beverage and gossip.

One of them tells of a past encounter with William. He bolted from her during a slingshot interrogation.  She disarmed and secured him in an authorized cross chest carry, but not before he sunk what teeth he had into her arm.

Other teachers join us with the news that the P. E. teacher is absent again, and there are still no subs available, so the principal is  going to double up two classes and entertain them with a video.

I find him on a sidewalk out in the wind and offer to take over,  but he waves me off.

Which is a relief, because that 50 minutes my class goes to P.E. without me is the only time I have to look over all thirty stories again and decide on three. After I type and print them, I’ll mat, label, and laminate them for the annual Spaghetti Dinner/  Young Author Awards tonight at 6:30.  All entries due today at 3:00.

It is windy today.

It is something every day.

Women Huddle in Wind

                                                                         ©1983 Steve McCurry





7 thoughts on “Ways to Get Worn Out

  1. Leona Parks

    Another great story illustrating why teaching is not for the faint of heart! Keep ’em coming Sherry! I may not read each story immediately after you post it, but all your stories give me “food for thought.” My daughter is an IA now, and the recess duty is the MOST exhausting part of her job she tells me. Sounds familiar?

    1. Sherry Post author

      Yes, Leona. And it’s not just physically exhausting. The emotional/social dynamics have such a powerful influence on the kids. What goes on out there determines the rest of their day.

  2. Sandra Lytch

    Makes me worn out just reading about William – ha! Maybe he will turn out to be a track star!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.