“Have a good day son. Remember, do your best and your mother loves you.”
He hugged his dad for a few seconds then walked into the crowd of tweens like sheep herding on the Iowa plains. He adjusted his glasses and aligned his plaid tie.
“Watch, out.” A large white girl, well into puberty, bumped into Theo.
His glasses hit the floor, the frames popped out like a turtle, bouncing across the stained concrete.
“Sorry.” The girl walked passed him unphased as he scurried to find the lens.
“Theodore Roosevelt.” The booming voice echoed in the hallway. Yeah, he was purposely named after the 26th president. He could blame his mom’s obsession with the Rough Rider. To make matters more complicated, he resembled a teddy bear. His pudgy brown cheeks and rotund stomach begged to be squeezed.
“My glasses are broken.” Theo showed him the empty frames.
The man attempted to look for the lenses. A soft crunch could be heard as his size 12 foot smashed the bifocal.
“Hmph. We’re starting off good today.” The assistant head master scanned his clipboard. “Let’s get you to class.”
Theo put the spectacles in his pocket. He dragged his feet into a classroom of quiet children.
“Welcome to middle school.” The tall man lightly shoved Theo into the room and closed the door.
The room was bright and the air stale.
“Find your name on the seat and sit down.” Ms. Hacken demanded. Her military training had leaked into her civilian life as a teacher. Theo found his seat front and center.
“Open the folder on your desk. In there you will find everything you need for success in my class. This is your bible.”
“My name is Ms. Hacken and I will not tolerate any disobedience in my class.” She was a large woman, 6’2” with lean well-defined muscles.
Theo’s eyes locked with hers, he was afraid to look away but he was also trying to make out her facial features. His eyes watered from the strain. He was frozen until she found an adjacent victim to play her game. He placed his book bag behind the seat. Without his glasses it was hard for him to get a good vision of the classroom, all he saw was a mirage of grass, mud and sand on the walls.
“I need to go to the office. I broke my glasses and I can’t see.”
“Turn around, face the class, and give me thirty jumping jacks.”
Theo complied, his body parts wiggling in all directions. The kids were emotionless as they watched him shake the ground.
“You will not interrupt me when I am talking. Simply ask for permission by raising your hand.”
Theo sat down, out of breath and now sweating profusely.
“Everyone look at the table of contents.”
Theo couldn’t make out anything. He would have to wait till he got his spare glasses.
“Roosevelt, gather your belongings and go to the front office. You’re no good if you can’t see. I need you and everyone to keep up. No one is ever left behind.”
Theo put the folder in this bookbag and walked out the door.
“Class continue reading the table of contents. You will be quizzed when I get back.”
Ms. Hacken walked out the room to catch Theo.
“Theo.” she said.” He turned around, suddenly recognizing the voice.
“Mom.” He walked toward the figure.
She looked around and hugged the little boy with vigor.
“Go to the office and call your dad. Don’t forget, mommy always love you.” She kissed him on the forehead and proceeded to the classroom. Theo walked slowly through the hallway. Confused because he didn’t know where the front office was but more because that was the first time he met ‘this version’ of his mom.