I write to Heather because she hasn’t written to me. Is your daddy an alcoholic? I scribble down on thin paper. I fold it up into some lumpy triangles and send it sailing across the linoleum floor. The schoolchildren stare at the thing as it slides, all plump cheeks and braces. They wonder (rather obviously) upon whose feet it will land. My velocity is perfect, so naturally the note comes to a screeching halt just before grazing Heather’s toes (which look like little demons hunched over the deck of her sandals). Those toenails are foul beasts, splintered and cracked at various lengths and already stained some hue of coffee or piss. It is the last thing anyone would want to consider about a girl her age. She looks at me hesitantly. Open it! I urge her with a nod and bulging eyes. By then the other schoolchildren have surrendered to their letterless fates and returned their attention to whatever hollow task had occupied them previously. It’s just me and Heather now. She uncrumples the sheet and furrows her brows into a squint. NO. She pens in pink ink. Then she carries the thin paper to The Bulletin Board of No Shame and thumbtacks it up alongside all the other notes which had been exchanged that year. We have only one rule in our classroom and that rule is TRANSPARENCY. It is a word which we made sure to write onto many sticky notes and paste around the classroom, sort of a Big Brother means of staving away any temptation to be otherwise. Among the Bulletin Board of No Shame are many inadequate renderings of my breasts. As someone who was once at the brink of puberty myself, I understand the scathing curiosity which accompanies physical maturation. As one’s own body begins to shift, it becomes the first and foremost thing they consider when interacting with others. My own breasts protruded with great gusto from a very young age. In the short time they took to round out, I found myself contemplating all proximal breasts with such veracity that my father had to pull me aside and inform me that I was making my fullbreasted relatives very uncomfortable and that I should please keep my eyes “up here,” motioning at his own bloodshot and breast-interested eyes. While I agreed to be more subtle, my whole life long I have remained resentful of my parents’ reflex to stifle and shame my intrigue. Therefore, any and all depictions of the natural, growing human body have their place on our classroom wall (albeit I do offer critiques regarding proportion and size to avoid condoning impossible beauty standards). There is one portion of the Board which is dedicated to People Who Have Gotten Their Period. Obviously, I am the first person on that list, with the date listed right beside it (September 14th, 1992). There is a subsection where those who qualify can list whether they are ovulating, PMSing, bleeding, enduring menopause, etc. At present I am on day 12 of my cycle, my personal peak for fertility, athletics, sociability, and sexual appeal. Students naturally draw up the greatest amount of breast imagery around this time. It is a Wednesday, and I am considering which evening events will best calibrate my mind, body, and spirit during my precious ovulation window. I decide upon elderly speed-dating at Saint Elmo’s Church. Though I am far from becoming geriatric myself, and I am certainly not an age fetishist, I find that this is the most guaranteed means of finding a horndog to pound down on all night long. Most men there are over the age of seventy-five and resigned to the belief that they will never see another pussy so long as they may live. Oh, what joy it is to bring their sullen virility back to life! And it makes for a great lesson on ageism when I write the name of my latest lover on the Bulletin Board of No Shame the morning after. Teachability in all things. When I sense the students complete the task they have been previously working on I clap my hands together. I inform them that today we will be conducting a social experiment. I am curious about the whole D.A.R.E. program and its intentions. It’s all NONONONONO and never maybe under the right conditions, which is really the appropriate approach to most things in life. I find drug resistance programs to be terribly lacking in TRANSPARENCY, so today I have brought in some supplemental materials. I figure it is a good day to get high and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I place one gummy on each student’s desk. “The key to drug use,” I tell them, “is intuition.” They each look at the gummy with varying levels of curiosity. “In your heart you know whether or not you would like to get high.” I emphasize that this is a safe space, and that I too will be getting high for the relatability aspect. I tell them that this is a classroom where we value TRANSPARENCY and that there is no pressure to eat or not eat the gummy. We do a quick meditation so that they may decalcify all external influences and tune into their Inner Knowing. While guiding them through the meditation, it dawns upon me that one’s first edible should not be taken so lightly. Though I had an extraordinarily keen sense of Inner Knowing at their age, for most this relationship to one’s innermost desires could take years of therapy and guidance to cultivate. I am never one to let pride get in the way of rightitudes, so I hop to my feet and collect the gummies quickly. “Actually,” I inform them, “This is something I’d rather you discuss with your shrinks. Then get back to me. Once they sign off on it, I’ll be happy to share a joint with you any time.” The students are forgiving and graceful with my error. A few are disappointed and one feels angry, so we jot it down on the Mood Meter and agree to hash it out at lunchtime. It is likely that I will end up giving him his gummy back, since he is so lucid with his emotions. Five students in our class have alcoholic fathers, which is why I wrote to Heather earlier. I asked everyone on the first day of school to post on the Board whether they did or not, but sometimes TRANSPARENCY takes a moment to warm up to. It is important to acknowledge the varying families which constitute the backbone of our classrooms. We cannot be beside our classmates 24/7, and I find that this can be quite the barrier to intimacy. We therefore implement The Honesty Hour every day from 12-1. We gather in a circle and run things Socratically— the child of choice sits in the middle of the circle, and others inquire about their current emotional landscape. It is easier to get honesty and vulnerability when we are given more context, hence the necessity of knowing who has alcoholic fathers. Children of divorce, adoptees, those who have suffered chronic illnesses, death in the family, et cetera, can also be found listed on the Board. Today it is Heather’s turn to be questioned. “Are your foul toenails reflective of your current domestic situation?” One boy asks. Heather holds up a small sticky note which reads “PASS.” “Heather!” I chide. “Perhaps passing was acceptable when you were prepubescent, but we are growing beings here, committed to the maturation and development of every element of ourselves! Throw that sticky note away at once.” Heather sulks to the garbage can and discards it. “Well,” she says, “I like my toenails and I like my house.” She flexes her toes so that they dance like little specks of mold glimmering under harsh sunlight. The class nods understandingly, too quick to dole out their trust. I decide to press her further. “Heather, if you did have an alcoholic for a daddy, would you even tell us?” She shrugs. “Probably not.” Just as I suspected. The class lets out a gasp and I wave my finger through the air to silence them. I place a call on my classroom telephone to the principal's office and request that Heather immediately be transferred to another class. The principal does not answer her telephone so I leave a detailed voicemail. I profess that Heather is a threat to our sense of community and that she lacks a growth mindset, which is distracting for the other students in their quests for self-realization. Because of the urgency of the matter, I take action into my own hands and tell Heather she may linger in the hallway for the remainder of the day, or until the principal calls back with a classroom reassignment. She shuffles out, hands in her pocket, a smug little look on her face that perfectly matches her nasty little toes. I feel some sense of remorse knowing that she is likely suffering from some real repression, but in my heart I know I cannot Save Them All. They must be willing to save themselves.