Tuesday, March 10, 2009

So today wasn't going so well....

...as I'd been in the kitchen since 8:30 a.m. this morning preparing lunch for the seniors. Usually, I love to cook. But I didn't sleep well last night because the pollen is rearing its ugly head early, making me clog up. Breathing is like work. Add to that my lovely work induced sunburn from the kite flying contest which makes me burn up one moment, then shiver the next. It's a good thing just my arms were exposed. I'm so lily white that if any more of me had seen daylight, I fear I would've burst into flames and been spotted from outer space.

So when I went to work with the kids this afternoon, I took a deep breath [well, not too deep considering how well that's working] and opened the door as if trudging towards Death Row. Most days I don't mind working with the kids. Their attitudes can get in the way but I've learned how to make that disappear. They all looked at me expectantly, calling out my name cheerfully. Then, noting my empty hands, they turned back to their books. You see my little con artists have figured out the pattern: when I cook on Tuesdays, they tend to get the left over desserts. I'd already sent the cake on with my co-worker, so they didn't have a clue.

Just so this story makes sense, you should know that I'm the only white face at the Center. That doesn't bother me but anything new about me evolves into some of the most um...interesting topics of conversation. They still can't comprehend why I refer to my baby fine, straight locks as "really bad white girl hair." They love the texture and are constantly playing with my hair. Yesterday I had to endure our two youngest kids constantly touching my very touchy sunburnt arms. Our smallest girl, Teonna, is in kindergarten and the color of my arms alarmed her greatly. She kept placing her tiny hand on my arm and saying, "It's hot!" as if the red color had turned my arm into a stove burner. Truth was, my skin was still right warm and stinging yesterday. I explained what had happened and asked ever so kindly for her to leave my poor arms in peace. Each having done the test touch and asked a zillion questions, both girls agreed to stop.

And yet every five minutes I'd feel Teonna's little hand gently taking my arm's temperature.

I don't want to kill the kids' curiosity but pain isn't fun either. So I'd just look in her direction, and the prying hand would disappear. The only time I squealed was when she went to the other arm and poked it, as if checking to see if a loaf of bread was done. Through gritted teeth I said,"Teonna, please use your hands to hold on to your cards and let's just play our game." She agreed.

Twenty minutes later, the little hand stole over on to my arm again. Like a mother scolding her child, Teonna sighed,"Still hot." Somehow we made it through the afternoon with no screaming.

Today I came in and my little nurse immediately reached for my arm. Before she could, the other woman yelled at her, "Don't touch her arm! She's sunburned. That hurts white people. If you did that to me...," and she trailed off in disgust.

Ah, diplomacy.

Since tired and worn out is tough on the patience level, I hoped a simple explanation would suffice. Teonna had a frown wrinkling her brow and I wasn't sure if she was concerned or about to cry. Very quietly I said,"Yep, it still hurts. But not as bad." That declaration seemed to help. Teonna ran to the table, handed me a piece of paper and then hid behind a door. Here is the note in it's entirety. And remember, she's in kindergarten.

To Mrs [my first name mispelled hilariously but she tried]

Fome Teonna

I love you Mrs. [me] becos you is sow grat

Funny, my sunburn doesn't hurt any more. And I gave her a hug just to prove it.


Rachel Fox said...


Susan said...

Oh My God! Oh, I'm tearing up. I'd frame that, I would, and hang it over my desk so (as someone else reminded you recently) the b*st*rds could never, never, never get me down.

Just wow.

And I hope your sunburn is better very soon.

hope said...

It's almost not fair. Every time I have one foot out the door, something like this happens.

Who knew it was the job of a 6 year old to keep my spirits up? :)