Column: Hearted i’s and scribbled lies

“Vision blurred, choking back tears, I walked into the most dreaded room in the entire school, where the cheaters and bullies were sent to and came back to the class with tears in their eyes. I was absolutely terrified and so disappointed in myself.” (Maya Hernandez)

I sat in my chair staring longingly at the whiteboard. The thick, smelly, chisel-point markers were calling my name. I just had to wait for the teacher to assign me a station.

“Sophia,” my kind, patient kindergarten teacher called.

My fingers itched with anticipation. I needed to get my hands on the dry erase markers. I had to practice drawing perfect circles and cubes and dotting my “i’s” with hearts.

“Yes, ma’am?” I asked excitedly.

“Silent reading station.”

I watched as my fellow classmates got chosen one by one to participate in different stations. Silent reading was by far the most boring activity there was. I had to tune out all the giggles and noises of my classmates who were happily drawing on the whiteboard and making macaroni necklaces while I was reading “The Kissing Hand” silently at a table in the back of the classroom.

I had intended to follow the directions, but it was impossible to stay still and read a book while I wanted to be playing. I didn’t even think through my decision before I acted. I bolted up from my seat, clenched a hot pink Expo marker in my right fist and swung my arm around, windmill-style, leaving two or three giant circles on the board. Then, I turned and ran back to my seat, my heart pumping with adrenaline.

Instantly, I realized what I had done: I had blatantly disobeyed Miss Clark. I felt hot shame rise up in my cheeks. Guiltily, I returned to “The Kissing Hand.”

“MISS CLARKKKKK,” called out Carly, the tattletale of the class. “Sophia just went to the wrong station and scribbled on my name!”

Apparently, when I was making the huge circles on the board, I had accidentally crossed out the “y” in Carly’s name. I felt bad, but at the same time, I really did not want to get in trouble.

“Did you just make these circles, Sophia?” Miss Clark asked me, clearly disappointed and fully aware that it had been me.

“No ma’am, I was at this station,” I fibbed.

She knew I lied. And I knew that she knew that I lied. I felt embarrassed, but was too scared to admit that it had been me, because I thought that I would be in trouble not only with my beloved teacher but also with my mom and dad.

I got sent to timeout by a very upset-looking Miss Clark. Afterwards, I was even more distraught, because the only kids who ever got sent to timeout were the bad kids. I was not a bad kid. I couldn’t make eye contact with anyone or stop bawling. The even scarier part of being punished at school was what came after timeout — the principal’s office. Ms. Dennis was, according to my classmates, the scariest person to ever live.

As I suspected, in the middle of the day, I was called down to talk to the Ms. Dennis. As I walked down the hallway, I avoided eye contact with classmates and teachers I knew. Vision blurred, choking back tears, I walked into the most dreaded room in the entire school, where the cheaters and bullies were sent to and came back to the class with tears in their eyes. I was absolutely terrified and so disappointed in myself.

“Why are you here today?” Ms. Dennis asked.

Shakily, I explained to her exactly what had happened and that I was so ashamed of my misbehavior that I had fibbed to my teacher about it. Ms. Dennis had kind, comforting eyes that actually appeared slightly amused.

“Sophia, you wouldn’t even be here today if you hadn’t lied. If you had told your teacher the truth, you wouldn’t have gotten in trouble,” Ms. Dennis explained. “The part that got you in trouble was that you lied about it. You need to be honest.”

I rode the bus home that day dreading telling my parents why I had a principal’s office note to sign, but I never forgot what Ms. Dennis told me about the importance of honesty. Even though telling the truth may seem scary, it’s always better than lying and getting yourself into even more trouble.