Several years ago, at 4:10 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon, I found myself running up some stairs, down a hallway, through a break room, and into an office, yelling, “THE EAGLE HAS RINGWORM!” Why? Because teaching is a really weird job that often makes you say words you never thought would come out of your mouth.
That afternoon’s strange vocalization was brought on by a case of Hindsight Hearing. Hindsight Hearing is when you realize, after the fact, that you heard something that concerns you, and it happens a lot when you’re a middle school teacher. For instance, maybe your students are working in groups. The classroom is loud, but it’s loud in that we’re-being-productive-and-learning sort of way, so you let it go. You’re wandering around the room, checking in on each group, but while you’re talking to one group, your super-teacher hearing is registering, on some subconscious level, what the group next door is saying. Later, during your conference period, while you’re taking ten deep breaths in a row and trying to convince yourself that the stack of grading on your desk won’t eat every minute of your personal time this week, you hear it—that snippet of conversation from three hours ago that lodged itself in your brain.
“If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll stay home tomorrow, because [Name] isn’t messing around.”
And suddenly, you realize there’s a fight planned for tomorrow after school. And you know you now have to spend the rest of your conference period talking to the counselor and the AP instead of making a dent in that pile of papers.
This is Hindsight Hearing. It’s kind of awesome and kind of just really annoying.
In the case of the eagle and the ringworm, it was actually two separate snippets of conversation that floated into my brain during the day and waited until just after the final bell rang to dislodge themselves and make sense.
Student A- “How is that kitten you rescued?”
Student B- “Ohmygod, it’s so cute! Oh, but it gave me ringworm…”
Student B- “Guess what? I get to wear the mascot costume at the football game today!”
Cut to me standing in my principal’s office, out of breath, telling her our soon-to-be-mascot has a highly contagious skin condition.
Seriously. You can’t make these things up.
Other Things You Don’t Expect to Say at Work:
“Could you please ask the principal to come to the seventh grade hallway? One of the lockers is vibrating.”
[It turned out to be an electric toothbrush.]
“Emma, will you please cut Patrick’s heart out?”
[Well, he couldn’t cut his own heart out. He injured his hand.]
“Take that book out of your mouth.”
[When you work in an elementary school library, you will say this daily.]
“Please don’t stick paperclips in your eye anymore.”
“No, you may not Google pictures of bombs!”
[“But I just need to see how to draw one.” Still no. Watch more Bugs Bunny cartoons.]
“So, in this line of your poem, I think you meant to write ‘whitey tighties’ but what you actually wrote was ‘witty titties’.”
[Best spelling error ever.]
“Whose pants are these?”
[It remains a mystery.]
I love my job. I also love that the fact that summer is five short weeks away.