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Big Heroes – Little People
Second grade is a very special year for me. In second grade, we really started to form close friendships and share secrets. It’s exciting to learn something about yourself that your parents didn’t know.
Like falling into a swamp on the way to school. That day, my 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Bjorklund, became my hero. She never told anyone what happened. She could have dragged us to the principal and reported us to our parents, but she didn’t. I think she’s great, she’s one of us.
It was a warm Friday afternoon in May. Twenty second graders fidgeted at their desks, watching the clock nervously. Mrs. Bjorklund always makes us sing after 3:00 on Fridays. She wasn’t stupid enough to try to teach anything to the little kids who anxiously watched the long hands on the clock as the minutes passed by. Only thirty minutes left.
We sang my favorite song from second grade, “Carmelita.” It said, “Oh, sing your song Carmelita, please Carmelita, please sing your song for me. It won’t take long Carmelita, please Carmelita, please sing your song for me.” The donkey happily Go ahead, he goes clop with a happy clip” That’s a great song, I love it, especially the clip clop part.
Mrs. Bjorklund is leading us through the song when Mr. Carton sticks his head through the door. He is our principal. He’s a really nice guy. Every Friday he would put his head down and wish us a happy weekend. He was friendly, had a big smile, and I thought he was tall. I think he’s tall, I don’t know because I’m seven and everyone is tall to me.
He gave us a smile as we sang, and he went to close the door, but it slammed shut. We opened the windows so the air pressure caught him off guard. But that’s okay, we didn’t miss the beat singing.
We were all nervous and excited as the day wore on. Warm spring days are a big deal when you’re growing up in Lake Superior. You can actually run and play without worrying about catching a cold. It’s the perfect weather for a game of hopscotch or Chinese skipping rope. We really enjoyed playing these games as kids. Those were the video games of my youth. You can’t do it inside or alone.
So it’s 3:25 and Mrs Bjorklund agrees that we put the books away and tidy up our desks so they’ll be neat and organized on Monday. We are all very excited. We can’t wait to be released. It’s like opening the gate to a pasture and all the cattle are running like crazy.
Another benefit of second grade is that there is no homework. Our homework is to help with housework. Clean the chandelier with my sister, or sweep the floor. I’m too young to vacuum.
Finally, the last ten seconds. I watched the clumsy movement of the long hands on the clock as the second hand ticked. Then the bell rang. Thank goodness we all got up and headed for the door.
Why didn’t the door open? I heard someone say the door was stuck. We were all hanging around and some of the kids were starting to look worried. Mrs. Bjorklund came over to see what was wrong and she told us to back off so she could open the door.
She turned the knob and nothing happened. Then she pushed the door open and went in, and nothing happened. She shook the door, but nothing happened.
The kids are getting more and more unhappy. A little boy, the principal’s son, was crying. He said he was running late for an appointment with Kerri T. I know there are only seven of us, but we are very experienced. He plans to meet her on the slide, and then they’ll play the carousel together. very complicated.
Mrs. Bjorklund walked back to the front of the room and sat down at her desk. She’s trying to save us. We all sat back in our seats and looked up at her. We know what she can think of, she’s an adult. She can save us.
She has an idea. We all take notes and stuff them under the door. Someone will see these notes, pick them up and save us.
So we feverishly write notes, begging for help. We’re stuck and need help. We’re a little dramatic. I mean, we were on the first floor, we had lots of windows, and we had running water. Wait, we don’t have a bathroom. Now this is a problem. We are only seven years old, time is running out, and someone is leaving.
So we stuffed the bills under the door and waited in the lobby. We waited and waited, but no one came. This got us thinking. Who are we waiting for? Ten minutes ago, on a warm Friday afternoon, the bell rang. The bus was gone, and it seemed everyone else was gone too.
A few more kids started crying and the rest of us became anxious. We’ve been waiting all week for Friday night, and we’re allowed to be outside for a while due to the warm weather. We had to go home, where there was scotch to dance, Barbie to play with, bikes to ride. We were all so busy that night and we needed to get out of there. I’m sure no one else realizes this, but we really are little adults with big plans. Friday night, hopscotch, our social calendar, time to go.
Mrs. Bjorklund was at her desk thinking again. Then she started looking at the window. That’s it! We’ll send someone out the window. We are on the first floor. The window was rickety, so it had to be a small person to get through the hole. Who will it be? ? ? ?
We have a volunteer, Timmy Flake. Timmy comes from a big family. All children look the same. Small, scrawny, freckled, red-haired. I had a feeling Timmy might have actually been out those windows before. He was the kind of kid who was always on the edge.
One day in art class, we were all wearing art smocks (Dad’s old shirt turned inside out), and the art teacher gave each of us a piece of charcoal. We should draw a picture of a house. So while we were all trying to do that, Timmy dropped his hands and went to the boys’ room.
He went in and painted a beard, mustache and eyebrows on himself with charcoal. Then he went back to class. I don’t think I laughed that much in school before or after that. This is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen a seven year old do. He’s in trouble.
So none of us were surprised when he voluntarily walked out the window.
He climbed onto the ledge and Mrs. Bjorklund made him jump out of the window, grabbed his ankle and started pushing him. There is only one problem. He is not suitable.
Timmy seems to have undergone some sort of growth spurt in second grade. I didn’t really notice before, but he’s getting bigger. Still, he was the youngest kid in the class.
Mrs. Bjorklund pulled him back. There were two or three children crying.
We never go out. We will die there. Our parents would band together to find us. When our poor lame was finally discovered, it was too late. The whole town will be sad. There will never be a church big enough to accommodate all the grieving families.
They will all be sad and they will sing our favorite songs. Yes, they will learn “Carmelita”. Maybe they could even get a donkey to pull the coffin wagon. Maybe donkeys can even clap happily. so sad.
Years from now, children will follow the example we set. We die in school, we learn, and they remember us for it.
Boy, was I dramatic when I was seven.
Then I heard a knock on the door! ! Someone is knocking on the door! ! We all cheer! ! ! It’s Mr. Carton, he’s there, he’ll save us. Mrs. Bjorklund ran to the door and told him it was stuck and she couldn’t open it.
Mr. Carton made her stand away from the door, and told all the children to go back by the windows. So we all huddled in front of the window. It’s so exciting, like the episode with Lacey where the dad finally follows Lacey to save the kid.
Mr Carton took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves. He lowered his shoulders and ran to the door, slamming it with all his might. It’s on.
We all cheered. We are saved! ! Mr Carton saved us. We all had a good laugh. This is the best day of my life. It’s like a superhero saves us. Save us from dying, save us from getting into trouble for missing dinner, save us from growing up, getting married and having kids, and telling them great stories about how we faced death and laughed.
Well, I’m still being dramatic.
That day seems ridiculous in retrospect. It sure wasn’t funny when it happened. I’m still terrified. It’s funny, being afraid now is no different than being afraid before. I’m just afraid of different things now. I’m afraid AA feels a lot like being locked in a classroom after noon on a Friday. I have a lot to do and I’m in a rush to get out and I think I need to see my friends too, but it’s like 2nd grade and the door is locked.
Mr. Carton will not knock on my door this time. I need to do it myself. If Timmy Fleck Jr. could voluntarily walk out of that window and be hugged by his ankles on the ground, of course I could walk out and face what was there.
Heroes come in all sizes, from Mr. Big Cotton to Timmy Fleck Jr., are the heroes in our lives. Our greatest heroes are within all of us. The small voice said “I’m still here, as long as you work hard, you can do anything.”
So what are you waiting for? It’s Friday afternoon, it’s nice outside, go, eh! ! !
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