Recently I bumped into Nathan and was able to have a conversation with him for the first time this year. I asked him how he liked his first grade teacher. “She’s a pretty good teacher, she’ll do,” was his reply… his quip made me think of this little gem from last year.

I called in sick.

I’d been fighting a cold and sore throat all week and decided that a day of rest was in order. It’s hard to fight sickness when you have twenty five-year-olds sneezing and coughing on you all day long as well. Yes, we go over proper etiquette for these matters, often on a daily basis. But for some reason, they forget about it all and decide that using me as a tissue is just easier.

In any event, I stayed home, and the rest did me some good. By early evening, I was feeling better, and I figured that I should check my school e-mail to see if I missed anything earth-shattering. There were some get-well wishes from fellow teachers, and then, there was an e-mail from a parent. Nathan’s mother.

That day, because I had been out sick, a substitute teacher had been called in to teach my class. And apparently, this was a big deal to my students. I’m sure it caused quite a ruckus in the classroom, and according to this parent, some of the kids had lots to say about it when they got home, too. Nathan, who always found a way to make me smile, had jumped off the bus and exclaimed to his mother, “Mr. ______ was sick today. We had a prostitute teacher!”