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  • Hiding your heartbreak from children is not an easy thing to do. All week, I thought I'd done a pretty good job, minus a few breakdowns before or after the bell rang when I was alone at my desk or in the back stall of the girls' restroom. A couple of 4th grade girls had noticed that the picture on my door had been cut in half, but they didn't seem to realize why. I guess they are too young to know that sometimes people get cut out...out of your pictures, out of your life. Lucky gals.

    My first grade group of struggling readers comes in the afternoon, and they are a motley crew! Four boys--shaggy hair and "all boy," as we say in the teaching field--but just about as cute and spirited as any group I've ever had. One, in particular, makes me laugh like no one else can. He's freckled and funny and brimming with wit that is far too quick for his age.

    "Ms. Salome....Can I tell you something?" he asks.

    "Sure!" I say, busily trying to "stay busy" getting letter tiles ready for another round of Mystery Word. I figure it will be one of those famous first-grade stories about his dog, his birthday party, or maybe even a new loose tooth--one of those stories you can half-listen-to while doing something else if you throw in a few "uh-huh"s.

    "All week, you've looked....well...." he trails off, hesitant.

    "What?" I ask--he's grabbed my full attention--I'm worried he is on to me. Can this little guy be the only kid who noticed my smiles are forced? That I'm walking around like a shell of myself, shriveled underneath my "happy" teacher-talk? Yikes.

    "...constipated, " he finishes.

    I pause. I wasn't expecting this adjective.

    He leans across the horseshoe table and whispers in my ear, "Do you know what it means to be constipated?" He's trying not to smirk.

    "I do," I reply. I'm trying not to smirk.

    "So? Are you?" he persists.

    "Not technically," I answer. I'm not, technically, but I realize that indeed my feelings are quite constipated. And, I wish there was a cure for that.


    Image via Christian Yates (Flickr Creative Commons)
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