Mrs. Waltz wore sensible clothes and sensible shoes. She always had on a light-colored blouse with a conservative print, usually with a bow collar. Her skirts were mid-calf length in a muted tan or forest green. She wore nude nylons down to her practical, sturdy-heeled shoes, probably Clarks or some other brand that centered itself on practicality. Her hair was always tightly curled, suggesting that she slept in small curlers and a hair net. She likely had a diligent evening routine that involved setting her hair just so.

illustration of Mrs. Waltz with tight curly hair and a pair of sensible shoes

Mrs. Waltz’ personality was stern, but fair. She gave equal treatment to all of us in our second grade class. I didn’t get into any more trouble than any of the other kids.

There was one instance, though, where I found myself needing to go to the bathroom several times throughout the day. It was unusual, as I don’t remember ever having to go to the bathroom as frequently as I did that day. As an eight-year-old child, I was especially self-conscious about my personal business. I had to raise my hand, wait to be called upon and then ask Mrs. Waltz for a bathroom hall pass every single time.

After the third or fourth trip to the girls’ room, Mrs. Waltz asked me in front of the whole class why on earth I needed to go to the bathroom so often. But that was Mrs. Waltz. She was used to a certain bathroom cadence from the children in her classroom. When the pattern broke, she was going to notice. She was simply being sensible.


We were in the second grade, lining up at our classroom door to make the trek through our narrow halls, single file, to gym class. Somewhere in line, Gregory – the kid whose head was shaped like the Panic Pete stress toy – tossed out some snide comments about girls. Another classmate, Christopher, overheard the comments and responded with, “I think boys and girls can do everything equally.”

illustration of little me smiling

I remember smiling at this kid who I didn’t know very well. He was one of the nicer kids in class. All of a sudden, I had a newfound respect for him, because I began writing a story in my head about how Christopher was the kind of kid who would stand up for what was right. It must have been a very short story because I don’t recall any other memories of him after that day.