As I work on my manuscript I thought y’all might like a sneak peek. My book is at least partially about how the lessons I learned in teacher school were completely un-useful my first year of teaching. Check back next Tuesday for another lesson I learned the hard way.
How to talk about your butt
Da-a-a-amn, Miss Norman ain’t got no a-a-a-ss! The cry came from the back corner of the room. A thought that escaped out a of a surprised mouth the second I turned my back to the class to write on the white board with a green expo marker.
It was only the third day of school, but I recognized the voice as belonging to Neko. I stood at the board in the dress that I had so carefully selected for the first week of school. A brown wrap dress with three-quarter length sleeves, I loved the way this dress looked; just pretty enough to make me feel good, still distinctly professional. I pretended to continue writing until the blush running up my cheeks subsided and I could face the class as though I had not heard the exclamation from the back of the room.
Neko didn’t mean anything by it; he had simply never seen a woman with a backside as flat as mine. While inappropriate, the statement was accurate. Ms. Norman ain’t got no ass. It may have been the most obvious issue, but this was the least of my problems.
This was not the last time my butt would come up. I tried to follow the instructions of my teaching professors, ignore the comments and re-direct the conversation, but the students didn’t seem to understand that the shape of my backside was something I was unwilling to discuss. Now I know, I know it is because they liked me, they respected me, they were trying to protect me. Kids were talking about my flat-for-even-a-white-girl booty behind said butt and they were trying to let me know.
I abandoned the ignore-it technique mid-way through first semester when the girls in my fifth period attempted to stage an intervention. They wanted to make sure I knew about my problem and they wanted to help.
The girls approached my desk with solemn faces, “Ms. Norman, do you know what Apple Bottom jeans are?” I started laughing, that song had been playing non-stop in the hallways for the entire year Apple-bottom jeans and the boots-with-the-fur. Of course I knew what apple bottom jeans were, and I knew that they were designed to do just what they advertised, make your back-side look like a luscious red apple.
I explained to the girls, as gently as possible, that while I appreciated their help, and offer to buy me a pair of pants, this is just what white-girl butt looks like. My butt is just flat, and that is okay. They left my room with their heads shaking. How could I live my whole life-like that?
I learned that year to attack the discussions head-on, to ignore the blush as it crept up my cheeks. The kids were going to talk about whatever it was they were talking about. They may as well have accurate information.