We're Just Getting Started
(You can listen to this piece on S2E15 of the podcast)
Colors flash over my head. First periwinkle, then indigo, then fuchsia. There are words but they swirl in my head like a toilet bowl flush. I cough, an involuntary action that clears my vision somehow.
“Are you okay Ms. Rahman?” asks several of my 3rd graders.
At least that’s what I think they ask me, because the pounding in my head makes them hard to decipher. A clammy hand wipes the hair off my forehead. Now the colors flying over my head are still and I can see that my entire class is staring at me, eyes wide in alarm. Except for Dan. Dan’s suppressing the biggest laugh. And Johntay. Johntay looks like he’s ready to cry.
What I remember is our monitoring our school playground during recess. What I remember is some jump roping and some hide and seek action and some balls bouncing. And then I remember a ball smack dead between the eyeballs.
“What happened?” I ask, massaging my forehead. How on earth does a 3rd grader throw a ball so hard that I’m knocked off my feet? Every child looks at one another, faces completely horrified. They’re precious, truly. And nervous. Nervous to see their teacher sprawled on the ground just two weeks into the school year.
“We don’t know,” Johntay says, tears seconds from falling down his face.
I smile, reaching out to pat Johntay on the shoulder. “It’s okay children,” I say, taking care to look them all in the eye reassuringly.
I rise to my feet, and the kids, first reluctantly, then excitedly, return to running around the playground with their colorful clothes and hair bows. But not Dan. Dan lingers around.
"It really was an accident,” he says. Just then, I notice the ball in his hand. And I remember that he’s on a peewee t-ball team.
“It’s okay, Dan,” I say, motioning him to join his peers in play. ‘Just be careful next time.” He nods. As he turns, I shake my head. From the way Dan throws the ball to a friend across the playground, I can see that this school year will be full of injuries.