"Respect"

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When I was in eleventh grade,

I had an English teacher who

made me want to

be a teacher...

because she was so useless that

I didn’t learn nothing from her.

 

Well, I guess that’s not exactly

true; I did learn how to stifle

my tongue, and to

silence my breath,

in order to show her what she

called “respect”. But sometimes, I failed.

 

You see, there was one day that I

was listening to my iPod

in class. She said,

“Put that away.”

And I replied, “I’m learning more

from these songs than I can from you.”

 

Something that they don’t always teach

you in high school is that when you

openly show

disrespect to

someone who is six months pregnant,

you sometimes get into trouble.

 

She pulled me into the hallway,

fire in her eyes, desire

for a cup of

coffee, or for

alcohol or cigarettes, the

things sacrificed for pregnancy.

 

“You will never,” she hissed at me,

“insult me in front of my class

again. You will

learn to respect

me.” And I couldn’t hide the small

smile that spread across my lips.

 

I thought of all the things that she

cut from our class: "The Great Gatsby",

"Catcher in the

Rye", free thinking.

She grew lazy while that little

baby was growing inside her.

 

But why did that matter? Why did

this one growing child matter

more than my own

education?

Or the education of those

who sat next to me? So I said,

 

“I’ll respect you when you give me

a real reason to respect you.”

The words were out

of my mouth so

fast that I couldn’t stop them. I

knew that I had now crossed a line.

 

Her nostrils flared, and I would have

bet money that the baby was

kicking within

her at the rage.

She grit her teeth and clenched her fists,

and I saw the storm rolling in.

 

But luckily (was it luck?) it

was all my head; I pulled out

my headphones, tucked

the thoughts away,

and filed it under, “Shit You

Can't Say to Your Teacher (today)."

 

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