But the 32 students were not. Tammy was sure this was the day she would finally lose her mind.
The kids had been rowdy since morning. It started small, with a few of the boys trying to launch their empty juice boxes to the trash can, and missing terribly. She had noted that she would need to speak to the gym teacher about their aiming abilities. When one girl tossed her water bottle and had a successful swish, the boys saw a call to war.
Since then, it had been seven and a half hours of agonizing patience, prodding, and begging to get the kids to do their work, to pay attention, to simply sit in their god forsaken chairs!
Days like this were not new to Tammy, but they were more exhausting than they’d once been. In her first years of teaching, she would take a deep breath, corral her students, and continue the lesson. As the years went on, the deep breaths turned into several deep breaths, and then long sighs, but she was still able to bring the loudest of students back into the fold.
Today, however, they had won. Now that she thought of it, they won last Thursday too. And the Monday before that. Was she losing her touch?
She knew the real reason though. Her husband’s bakery was becoming more successful every hour, so she joined him there both before and after school. If there is anyone that can smell a tired, weakened adult from a mile away- it’s a student.
Not that she wasn’t proud of her husband! She was immensely proud of him. It was her honor to fret over his long hours and to assist his assistant. She wanted to be by his side and help grow his dream.
But these kids weren’t going to discuss the horizon layers of soil on their own.
“Mrs. Morris! Conner stuck his gum in my pencil case!”
Tammy bit the inside of her cheek to keep the growl in her throat from escaping out loud. Instead, she turned her no-nonsense glare on little blond Conner.
“Conner, you will sit in front of my desk with the wet wipes until Jessica’s pencils and pencil cases are shiny and spotless.”
“But Mrs. Mo-”
“And you will bring me your gum.”
Behind her, a loud bubble popped.
“And so will who ever popped that bubble! Gum is not allowed in class! If I have to check everyone’s desk, I will double the homework tonight!”
There were many grumbles and a small argument between a couple students before two packs of gum were placed in Tammy’s waiting palm. She knew there were more in the classroom, but at least this was a little win for the hellish day.
She tasked them with a worksheet, and though she told them twice to work silently, there were constant whispers and grumbles. Where the happy chatter of children learning normally warmed Tammy, the complaints and whines were like an icicle straight to her temples. It would be two glasses of wine tonight.
When she was finally able to escape her classroom and duck in the back of Preston’s Pastries, her energy was at an all time low. The short, silent car ride over had not been enough to calm the pounding in her forehead.
She didn’t have the icing skills of her husband or his junior baker Maddie, but she liked to do the dipping and pouring of glazes. Tammy felt it was a bit like meditating. Pick, dip, lay on cooling wrack to set. Pick, dip, lay. Pick, dip… grab dropped cookie out of glaze, lay. Pick, dip, lay. Pick, relax, dip. Lay, breathe, pick.
“Maddie!” She heard Preston call, “Where are the pecan pies?!”
“Two more minutes in the oven!” Maddie called back from behind Tammy’s spot at the icing bench.
“Bring those out when they’re done!” Preston called again from the bakery door.
Before it closed behind him, the sound of the front of house floated past the door into the back kitchen. Then a ding from the register. A mother asked her children to stop touching the glass of the display case, and Preston laughed that it was alright. What sounded like a couple was loudly discussing a cake design: “Is there a difference between magenta and pink?” “Yes, Brad, of COURSE!”
Maddie whistled while molding fondant. The large-batch mixer was whirring with ingredients that would eventually be chocolate-chunk muffins. The oven timer went off. The doorbell rang through the building. The dishwasher chugged and chortled.
And finally, the pressure in Tammy’s neck began to fade. Her shoulders relaxed into the weave of sound and movement. She began a little hum to accompany Maddie’s whistle, following the beat with each whoopee pie she now half-dipped in chocolate ganache.
A long time later, Tammy felt a kiss on her cheek and laughed as Preston had to follow it by wiping his mouth.
“How did you get icing all the way up on your face?!” He laughed.
She just rolled her eyes and held up her hands, which were also speckled with icing, all the way to her elbows.
“Ah. Good day at work, though?” He asked, clearing up the space around Tammy and stacking bowls for wash.
“No,” Tammy smiled at him, “it was terrible.”
“Oh?” He stopped, looking concerned. “Then why the smile?”
“Because summer is coming. And I’ll come here to work with you.”
“Aw love!” Preston turned her to plant another kiss, this time on her forehead, “I love when you get summers to be in here, but we’ll take a real vacation too.”
Tammy laughed, “No no, I’m done at the school. I’m going to be here with you. And Maddie!” she leaned around Preston to smile at the younger baker, “Permanently.”
Mellifluous (adj): Sweet or musical (of a voice or words); pleasant to hear.
God bless the teachers of the world! It is not an easy job and they don’t get enough credit/pay/respect for it.
But teaching was not for Tammy. It was noise, and she wanted sound again. I think we can all understand that. There are tones and tunes that, even if intended to be pleasant, make us anxious or stressed. It’s the difference between the racket of life and the melody of a good day. It’s important to really hear what is around us, to let our systems tell us if it makes us happy or not. And those aren’t always the same spaces for everyone- the resonance of a bakery might drive someone crazy, while for Tammy it’s a safe place. Maybe your spot is where you can hear the movements of a river, or in the middle of a loud family event. Just find your sounds- find your space!
Happy listening, friends 🙂
This is a sister-story to Today I am Simplicity if you would like to go read the other side of this tale!
Shoutout to my girl KR, who found the word for today when I wasn’t feeling inspired by any of the ones I was reading!
If YOU have a word that you think can inspire a story, please go to the Contact page and send me a message!