"Like the scene outside of The Last Chopper Out Of Saigon". That's how Mr. Scoop would describe the scene around school. It is the last day before the holiday break and there are about 20 minutes until the end of the day. The last period is barely half over and we can hardly keep the kids contained in our classrooms. You'd think the school would be generous enough to spring for electric fences to supplement the wooden doors. They work well enough keeping dogs from leaving the lawn and chasing the UPS truck.
My kids are playing Uno right now. They are squabbling. Nobody wants to shuffle. Somebody seems to be palming cards. Another kid would rather play games on his cell phone, even though they aren't allowed in school. "It's so hot in this room!" one kid exclaims, "Can I go outside for two seconds?" "Only if you clap my erasers", I reply. Fifteen minutes until the bell. They have become sick of Uno. Can I hope that they'll stay in their chairs until they're dismissed? Two of the larger, louder members of the crew have resumed Uno with a couple others watching intently. One kid continues to bop around the room. He is half of a set of fraternal twins. You can tell them apart because he's the little one. The really little one - like his brother got hungry and ate part of him in the womb little one. He finally settles into a chair, but feels compelled to sing "Holly Jolly Christmas" at the top of his lungs. I could say something, but why bother? Ten minutes until the end of the school day. The lone Christmas caroler becomes uncomfortable in his seat and decides to drape himself across two of the desks.
The Uno game comes to an end. An ambitious neatnik chiquita decides to try to put all the desks back where they belong with all the kids still in them. I am reminded of Sisyphus in Tartarus. Another student becomes fascinated with the texture of the fake fur that trims a girl's jacket. He keeps playing with it with quiet intensity. As far as I know, he's not on Ecstasy. Then he snaps out of it and explains that the desk is shaped, in fact, like a trapezoid and not a rectangle. The kid sitting next to him nods appreciatively.
With one minute to go, several other teachers on the floor give up and let their students go. My kids see this and begin to clamor for release. "Sit down in your chairs and be quiet", I respond, "Or I'll make you late for winter break". They all dive for the closest empty seat like it's a game of musical chairs.
Finally, the bell rings. They lunge for the door shouting good-byes and holiday greetings. The silence that fills the room in their absence is almost deafening. Desks and papers are strewn about, flotsam and jetsam in the students' wake.
Now I can go home.
Happy Holidays, kids.