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Colin Gilbert
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Children’s Medical Center, Dallas—Teacher’s Diary

 

Colin Gilbert

 

 

Day 1.

These kids may be sick but if God dances to children’s laughter, his favorite radio channel is this classroom.

 

Instead of saying hi or shaking my hand, I met five-year old Peter when he walked into class, put his index finger firmly on my left middle finger and said, “This is the bad one and no matter what big kids say, giving the finger is not the same a lending a helping hand.”

 

Day 2.

It’s tougher here than I thought.

 

Nap time is a disaster. Instead of sleeping, the kids mimic soldiers by crawling under desks in the dark. Apparently, giggles double as camouflage for five-year-olds.

 

Also, Peter’s best friend Jason got sick, threw up on his desk and cried. When I asked him how old he was, to take his mind off the embarrassment, he proudly said “six” by showing me one whole hand and the middle finger of the other. I think I see a pattern here.

 

Day 6.

Sleeping meds have alleviated difficulties with nap time.

 

Day 18.

Annie ran into class this morning wearing Mrs. Johnson’s wig on her head. I never thought a proper Southern lady that old could run so fast. When I accidentally said “crap” in front of the kids, a couple of them lit up like I’d shown them a treasure chest they had heard tell of but never believed in. Even Jason brightened for a smile.

 

Note to self: A chocolate chip cookie and tiny carton of milk puts the children to sleep when medication isn’t available.

 

Day 28.

I found Peter and Katie playing, “You show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” I walked up just as Peter pointed at her waist and said “From the crack, it looks like you broke yours off.” When they tried to convince me it was OK because they were married, I giggled so unexpectedly, I think a miracle came out.

 

Day 32.

Jason was absent for the second day in a row and Katie hasn’t come to class in a week and a half. I’m starting to worry.

 

Day 38.

This was the hardest day yet.

The kids found out Katie isn’t going to make it back to school. Peter started acting out worse than usual. He even stripped down, stood on top of the middle table in the class and demanded an extra cookie “or Stephanie gets the sprinkler treatment.”

 

Day 44.

Jason came back from being sick for a week wearing his family’s war medals on his shirt. He tells everyone, “My grandpa died in Vietnam. And my daddy got a purple heart in Iraq. I don’t think my family is very good at war, but I’m fighting hard as I can against cancer.”

 

Thank God tears are translucent.

 

 

 

Colin is a poet/writer living and working in Dallas, Texas. During the day, he pays the bills by conducting readings and teaching workshops for colleges and high schools and at night he read submissions for Lamplighter Review, the journal of which he is Managing Editor. 

 

In 2006, he won the Hughes, Diop, Knight Literary Award and currently has poems appearing in recent and upcoming editions of Oak Bend Review, Waterways, Flutter, Poet's Ink & Love's Chance Magazine.

In Association with Fossil Publications