I Spoke Quietly.

I am at 95% power – finally almost not sick anymore.

So I went back to work. I have canceled substitute jobs twice during my illness, so I really didn’t want to cancel again. I realize that people get sick – but geez, three weeks on the couch is enough to make someone want a full-time job!

I had signed up to substitute in a kindergarten class.

Kindergarteners are interesting. The first class for which I subbed was kindergarten, because I remember so fondly those days with my children, when they were young and did whatever I wanted them to do. And indeed, kindergarteners are usually pretty good about trying to do what’s expected.

They can’t tie their own shoes, or argue their own cases with their friends, or open their own milk boxes, but otherwise they’re a pretty nice group.

So on my first day of substitute teaching, I went in to a room full of five-year-olds and spent the day chasing them around the room. It was exhausting. Every child needed something at every single moment. Glue sticks didn’t work, the paper towels didn’t dispense easily, the water bottle wouldn’t open, a clothing tag was bothering someone’s neck. One girl climbed into a cupboard. Another boy never sat down – not once – for the entire three hours I was there.

“Teaching kindergarten is like herding goats,” I declared to my husband upon my arrival home.

I’ve since taught other kindergarten classes, and I’ve become more adept at controlling the classroom. But I stick with my original statement: Teaching kindergarten is like herding goats.

So after three weeks on the couch, I had a kindergarten class. But I still had a cough, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do much “projecting” with my voice to get the kids’ attention.

I armed myself with a bell, and sat the kids down early – using the bell – before even taking attendance. I introduced myself quietly, and I explained that I had a problem with my voice because I’d been sick.

Nearly every hand in the room went up. I called on somebody.

“I was sick yesterday and I threw up twice!”

More hands shot up.

“I threw up three times when I was sick last week!”

I listened to a few more kids, then signaled for them to put their hands down. I explained that my voice wasn’t working very well, so whenever they heard the bell, they needed to get quiet so I could talk to them. Then I moved into the lesson plans, and spent several hours herding goats.

What I learned from those two minutes was invaluable.

I spoke quietly. And I got my point across beautifully.

I thought back to my morning with Dylan: “We’re late!” I had screeched. “I told you to be down here at 6:30 and you blah blah blah blah …”When he didn’t respond to my rant, I’d actually gotten louder. By the time we’d separated for the day, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. In fact, it’s one of the reasons my voice was so bad when I got to that kindergarten class.

But I didn’t have to be loud.

In fact, it’s Rule #1: Remain calm.

I’d forgotten Rule #1.

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