because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life: Guest Post by Annie Wolfe

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Annie -- all grown up!

Annie Wolfe from Six Ring Circus is my guest blogger today, and she has a great teacher memory. But before we get to that, a little hoo-ha about Annie. Annie went to college, locked eyes with a handsome man in her anatomy class, and they got to studying anatomy.

I mean, they got married.

Before she knew it, she was a stay-at-home mother to four energetic children. (She was very fertile.)

These days Annie writes about her children — Speedy, Princess, Dictator and Taz , and I must say, they make great material. Annie’s circus resides in the Heartland, where life should be simple but, with a family of six, life rarely is. I don’t know how she does it; I’m just glad she does. Read her post, check out her blog, and if you like Twitter, you can follow her @Annie6rc.

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The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life

I’m a school-loving nerd. The intense grin on my face in that photo says it all. (My mom made those sweet culottes and the handkerchief shirt.) I ran eagerly to my first day of kindergarten, nap mat in hand. There was never a day I didn’t want to go to school.

Annie in 1st grade!

I will always remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Dean. Mean Mrs. Dean had a reputation with the other children for being tough. When I heard she was going to be my teacher I shuddered a little. She had the look of a mean old troll. I was sure I wouldn’t like her.

I was a studious child, very organized and task driven. I liked to get things done, but I worried I might not live up to grumpy old troll standards.

I quickly fell in love with Mrs. Dean’s no-nonsense attitude. She had eyes in the back of her head. While writing on the chalkboard, she could easily call by name and reprimand a troublemaker. Her head did not even swivel around slightly. To me, this was proof of her supernatural troll-like powers.

Troll or not, I felt so comfortable next to her stocky frame. I did not have to look very far up to find her crinkled face. She cackled when she laughed. I really loved her ability to run the classroom but I also grew to love her as a person. I specifically remember the day I fell in love with her heart.

We had a classroom reading chart with stickers to mark our progress. Once you had enough stickers, you got a free book. I was a crazy-obsessed reader and the idea of a book for a prize was incredible. I had a list of books to mark on the chart but I had to wait in line at Mrs. Dean’s desk to get my stickers. I was in the middle of the line and I had to pee so badly. I didn’t want to leave to go to the bathroom and return to stand at the very end. I was anxious.

I danced the clench-my-thighs-knee-wiggle dance. Finally, the call of nature could not be ignored. I dashed to the bathroom and hurried to pull down my pants. A warm rush was met with panic in my heart. I tried desperately to dry my pants with toilet paper. I stuffed ridiculous amounts of it into my underwear. It does no good to make a toilet paper diaper after you have peed yourself.

I remember whispering to the little girl in the mirror, “You’re going to have to be brave and go out there for help.” I was mortified. My entire class was lined up around Mrs. Dean. Everyone would know I had peed my pants like a baby.

I sucked in my breath and marched out to her desk. Mrs. Dean took my hand, told the class she would be right back, and walked me down the hall. She whisked me out so quickly, it saved me from much humiliation.

The feeling of my hand in hers was powerful. Her petite yet strong stature was reassuring. I know she comforted me with what she said, although the words are forgotten. Mrs. Dean didn’t make me feel stupid. She held my hand all the way to the office, where I called my parents.

I will always remember how she respected my feelings. She understood how potentially embarrassing the situation was for me. I wasn’t just a child to her, but a person to respect. I think sometimes adults marginalize issues that children find significant. A wise adult and excellent teacher can see things through the eyes of a child. Mrs. Dean was a very wise woman and most definitely an excellent teacher.

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If you have writing chops and are interested in writing about a Lesson You Have Learned, I’d love to hear from you! Contact Me. Essays should be around 700-800 words.

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