Mentions of Ms. Davis may conjure up Andy’s mom for some of you, but I think of one of my favorite teachers.
I remember a time in fifth grade after the last bell of the school year, I wait for Ms. Davis to thank her for being a good teacher. She is a hard-ass; many would even call her mean, but I know better and think she deserves to know.
She sternly peers back at me through her librarian-like glasses and smiles. Then, I ask if she would like to be my summer pen pal, something I have never had before, and she is taken aback. Her stare softens while she removes her glasses, letting the pink beads catch around her flushed neck. She loves pink. With a glint in her eyes, she says, “Yes, of course! I would love to be your pen pal!”
I tell her I can’t get enough of her handwriting, and that she said something that stuck with me. She looks puzzled.
I recalled a day with my new friends, Tiffany and Sherri; we were hustling back from a break, late. I was never late, but I was with “the cool kids” and went with their (slower) flow. As expected, Mrs. Davis was waiting outside the classroom, immediately scolding us for running. Someone said, “Well, if we didn’t run, we’d be even later.” Mrs. Davis retorted, “If you weren’t late, we wouldn’t have to run.” The other two girls side glanced back at me and rolled their eyes as they half-halfheartedly said, “Yes, Ms. Davis…”
I mimicked the behavior and she stopped me with, “Excuse me?!” The other girls knew not to stick around when that tone reared its head. She said, “Don’t roll your eyes!” With faux defiance but true remorse, I quickly made the uninspired “other-kids-do-it” argument. She said, “Yes, but you are not them, and this is not you. YOU are not the type to roll your eyes. YOU are better than that!”
I was dumbfounded, panged with guilt, wanting to defend my friends who are good kids, but also knowing she was right. It was a prime example of self-imposed peer pressure, and I was sorry for not being true to myself, and especially for disrespecting her.
I look up, my eyes refocusing on the present Ms. Davis, who, with tears in her eyes and nose now the shade of her nails and shirt, comes over to hug me. She says, “This is you. Thank you. Now go enjoy your summer. Your friends are waiting… and no running!”