I'm taking a break from my usual snarkiness today as we all observe the anniversary of 9/11.
It was my first year of teaching, and I was administering the wonderful and (way too) important standardized test at Glenwood Middle School (in the hood, even) in Evansville, Ind., pretty firmly in flyover country.
One of the teaching aids came by my room for my scheduled bathroom break and informed me the first tower had been hit and told as I left the room to go down to the office because I had a phone message.
It was my mother, telling me that my brother-in-law may have been at the Pentagon. I freaked out. My sister was about seven months pregnant and lived 10 hours away from all of us. What if she was suddenly left alone? What would she do? She didn't work full time. Nobody was in Baltimore to help her out. How would she cope?
After testing was done for the day, I flipped on the TV and let my students watch in unfold. Most of them were uninterested and complained before asking if I would turn the station to BET (Um, how about no, my little darlings.) I only had one student who seemed to care, and he got so worked up and angry I had to send him to the office for a talk with the assistant principal (who he loved) and a timeout.
Near the end of the day, the intercom interrupted my classroom to tell me my brother-in-law was OK, and a cheer went up from my previously disinterested students. Apparently, the whole thing didn't matter to them until it affected someone they knew (I kid you not, they were more upset over Aaliyah dying than over 3K dying on 9/11).
Later my sister said Mom was just overreacting and that her hubby had been at work the whole time.
As I reflect on that day, I've had Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" running through my head. The line about teaching a class full of innocent children never fails to bring the tears, so I'll leave you with it.