The twenty-eighth kid I hated held a grudge.
It was a very long grudge and gives proof to the adage that children have elephants’ memory – or so say I. Well, at the least, they remember when they’ve been wronged, despite an inability to remember more academic tasks like how to spell; or how to add numbers.
The grudge this child held was due to the fact I’d confiscated her cherry coloured (and presumably flavoured) lip gloss. The girl wasn’t one of my student’s. I merely caught her smearing the stuff across her face as I descended the stairs to perform my weekly yard duty. I’d normally turn a blind eye to neutral lip gloss, as the crisp dry winters of England usually crack as many lips as a clumsy kitchenhand cracks saucers. But this ten-year-old trickster had no use for cherry colour or cherry flavour, unless of course she was about to seduce one of her peers or had low blood sugar, respectively – albeit in the case of low blood sugar it wouldn’t be medically recommended to eat a tub of emollients.
So it was, that I confiscated the afore mentioned cherry lip gloss and told her she could pick it up in the afternoon.
I had every intention of returning it. The problem was two weeks passed before the girl finally came to claim her lip gloss. As I opened the drawer, I had put it in two weeks before, I found nothing more than the usual collection of half chewed pens and confiscated gum. No lip gloss. It had been taken by an equally troublesome child; another mystery for another day.
“I’m terribly sorry,” I said, “but your lip gloss is no longer here.”
“Where have you put it?” she demanded.
“I put it in this drawer.”
“Well you owe me a new one,” she said.
She stormed off.
I felt a little bad that the lip gloss had been stolen, although I was hardly to know there was a high theft rate of beauty products from the stationary drawer. Probably some pre-teen, with a penchant for broken pencils, pilfered the possessions of the drawer and thought they had hit the jackpot.
Thinking nothing more of it I continued my day-to-day duties as an educator of young minds until one day our paths crossed again in the playground.
“That’s him,” exclaimed the girl to her friends. “he’s the one who stole my lip gloss”.
‘Stole?’ I thought to myself. We’re my lips particularly red and shiny? Did I look that well-presented, that I could have stolen her infantile lip enhancer? Had I been spotted picking cherries too frequently from the schoolyard cherry tree?
Presumably it was the latter. Either way this was to become an ongoing pattern.
On an intermittent basis the student would spot me in the playground and the same accusations would surface.
Months later, I was considering relenting to the harassment by replacing the lip gloss. Instead, another teacher friend had fortuitously made lip gloss with her Year 11 students at another school, during a chemistry lesson. She had some spare containers of lip gloss remaining from the lesson, so I happily took one and placed it in my top coat pocket to give to the belligerent child when our next encounter took place.
Of course, all things being even, when the girl next spotted me in the playground she had finally forgotten about the lip gloss; as did I until I next took my coat to the drycleaner and realised the entire contents of the container had melted into the fabric of my coat pocket.
So although the whole saga was probably of bigger concern to myself than to the student, if we met again in a school stairwell, I doubt I’d offer any of my own cherry flavoured lipsmacker.