8) SCHOOL ... YUCK
Looking back on history, school didn’t fill Raphael’s cup of tea. Raul maintained in his mind, his boy needed all the help and encouragement they might give him. It was mainly because Raphael acted so adamant about not going to school .
This is why he decided on sending him to the Village Community School, a private facility on the west side of the city. He contracted with a courier company to take him each morning and pick him up in the afternoon.
The morning of his first day started out fine. The driver, Cal, showed up early and met Daddy and Raphael at the front door of their Brownstone. Sylvia stood hovering over Raphael, making sure he appeared perfect in his new outfit. She did her best not to show the tears in her eyes.
“Honey, here is your lunch,” she replied “I packed you a sandwich, an apple, and some cookies.”
“Thanks, Mommy,” Raphael nodded, “but why are nyou so sad?”
“I’m not sad honey,” Sylvia sniffed, “I’m happy and I’m sure you are going to make your Daddy and I proud.”
“She is right son,” Raul added, “I think you are going to be the smartest in your class.”
“Natasha will be right here when you get home,” Sylvia told him, “and she can fix you a delicious snack if you’re hungry.”
With the end of this dialog, Cal and Raphael went out to the car as Mom and Dad waved them away. When Raphael got to school, he presented a note to the principal who stood waiting for him.
‘Please help guide Raphael to the proper class and introduce him to everyone so he doesn’t feel alienated on his first day. If there are any problems or questions, you can call me at my office. My number is on file’. Raul Hernandez.
The principal read the note and smiled at Raphael.
“Well Raphael,” she stated, “we are going to begin a wonderful journey here. I think you will like our classes because in Kindergarten, we play all day. Let’s go meet your teacher Miss Gordon.”
They went down the hallway and the principal showed Raphael where he would keep his lunch and any of his other personal effects.
“This is your locker Raphael, “she said as she handed him a key.” Yours is locker number 22 and belongs to only you. Nobody else can get in without a key. You can put your stuff in here now and keep the key safe. I would suggest you put the key in your pants pocket.”
Raphael did as directed and followed the principal down the hallway to the first door on the right. As they entered the room, Raphael could see all the kids in the room seemed engaged in many activities. Some worked with building blocks while some drew pictures with colored pencils. Everyone looked up when the new student entered the class.
“Good Morning Class,” the principal announced. “Miss Gordon, this is your new classmate. His name is Raphael and I would like everyone to welcome him today on his first day in school.”
Miss Gordon shined as a pretty 23-year-old cutie with a kind, round face and a big broad smile. She walked over to Raphael and held out here hand to him.
“Hi Raphael,” she declared, “I’m Miss Gordon. I’m so very glad to meet you. What is your favorite thing to do at home?”
“I like to tune into cartoons on TV,” Raphael told her, “especially Ninja Turtles.”
“Well, we don’t offer a TV in here,” Miss Gordon said, “but we do supply plenty of Ninja Turtle coloring books. Come on in and let me introduce you to the other students.”
The principal resumed her level of comfort, enough to leave Raphael and go back to her office. Upon leaving, she told Miss Gordon Raphael owned locker number twenty-two and she went on her way. Miss Gordon took Raphael to each group in the room and introduced him to all the other students.
The class included Midge, Stephen, Bobby, Fred, Casey, Janet, Johnny and a million other names Raphael wouldn’t remember; at least not now. Miss Gordon pulled out the Ninja Turtles books and guided Raphael to a table offering an assortment of colored pencils.
“Why don’t you show me how good you can color Raphael?” She suggested.
For the next hour and one-half, Raphael sat at the table and drew his turtle pictures. Some of the other kids came by to look at what he worked on and most nodded with approval. Raphael’s emotions seemed to be dramatically less apprehensive about being in school now. He thought, this might be fun.
Lunch time came and all the class exited to the hallway and their lockers to pick up what they brought to school. They returned to the classroom and sat at the big table. Miss Gordon brought in a tray of milk containers and gave one to each kid.
Raphael couldn’t help but recognize some kids owned super artistic metal lunchboxes while he only kept his lunch in a paper bag. He seemed particularly attracted to Johnny’s lunchbox, because the outside presented pictures of the characters from the Star Wars Movies.
He thought to himself; now this is a dynamite lunchbox.
“Nwhere did you get a lunchbox with this design?” he asked Johnny.
“My mom bought this for me,” Johnny answered, “when we lived in California last year.”
“How cool,” Raphael commented. “My name is Raphael, nwhat is yours?”
“My name is Johnny,” he remarked, “Johnny Rivero.”
“California, WOW,” Raphael exclaimed, “I’ve never been in California. Is the area fun?”
“We used to live on the coast,” Johnny told him “but my mom didn’t like all the earthquakes. So we moved back here after my dad died.”
“How did your daddy die?” Raphael questioned.
“He got shot in the back of the head.”
“Wow,” Raphael queried, “with a real gun?”
“Of course,” Johnny snapped back, “How else would he die?”
Raphael encountered no violence in his life before and he assumed Johnny might be sad because he lost one of his parents. A real gun sort of excited him though. The Ninja Turtles didn’t use guns either but if they did, they would be all powerful. He didn’t understand why, but little boys are usually attracted to guns.
These two boys instantly became fast friends and they continued to talk about each other’s lives while they ate their lunches. Johnny learned Raphael’s father worked as a lawyer in the city and he remembered one time when his mother mentioned her brother was a lawyer. The fact seemed important but for the time being, the two only sat; content to talk as friends sometimes do.
After lunch, Miss Gordon announced to the class ‘now is nap time’. Raphael didn’t want to take a nap because he got a restful night of sleep previously. He wanted to keep enjoying the coloring of his comic characters, and talking with his new friend, Johnny.
“Now, now Raphael,” Miss Gordon corrected, “you will get plenty of time to color later. You can always talk with the other boys and girls in your class, but for now we take our naps.”
“I DON’T WANT TO TAKE A NAP!” Raphael shouted.
“Yea, “Johnny chimed in, “We don’t want to take a nap.”
Miss Gordon showed a visibly upset reaction. Here on her first day as a teacher, these two boys actively challenged her authority. The first inclination in her mind would be to take them both over her knee and spank them, but this option quickly evaporated. So she did the second best thing.
“OK,” Raphael and John.” She acquiesced, “You don’t need to take naps. The rest of the class is going to though. So you will stand facing this corner and John can stand facing the other corner. And I want no talking from either one of you.”
Both boys moped as Miss Gordon led them to their respective corners. She informed them she would tell the principal about this ruckus. They were warned more discipline would happen to them if they didn’t behave and mind the teacher; things like not talking to each other.
With her authority reinstated, Miss Gordon sat back down at her desk to read the latest copy of ‘The National Enquirer’. Not a peep came from Raphael or Johnny during the twenty-minute nap break. The rest of the day went quietly and without incident. Raphael pondered everything happening up to this point and he decided challenging the teacher might fit the description of a bad idea.
But with a secret smile, he thought harassing Miss Gordon constituted fun.