The calendar said it was spring, but the weather didn't show it. A weekend of sunshine had spoiled us. We had basked in the warm sun for a few days, but now it was Monday, and we were wading through four inches of wet, sloppy snow. A parade of gloomy faces entered the school door.
I determined to be happy and to greet everyone with a smile. "Good morning, Timmy. I like your new pink boots, Sarah. Good morning, Mr. Gordon." It seemed to help. Frowns turned into smiles, and the atmosphere began to change.
I held the door for our art teacher. She clomped up the steps in floppy galoshes and her green and orange striped coat. As usual, her arms were loaded with bags and boxes of art supplies. "Good morning, Mrs. Erston!"
"What's so good about it?"
Oh boy! It was going to be one of those days - time for Project Eeyore. At the beginning of the school year, I dubbed Mrs. Erston "Gloomy Ol' Eeyore." Like a gray fog, her melancholic demeanor would settle on those within her vicinity, including me.
In defense of this depressing effect, I had devised Project Eeyore. I secretly played a game to see how quickly I could get Mrs. Erston to smile. Today, she appeared to be extra grumpy, so I would need to be extra happy.
"Let me help you." I picked up one of her bags.
"Thanks, but I'm used to doing it all by myself. No one cares about my bad back." She groaned as she dragged a box down the hallway to her room. "I have to truck all this stuff back and forth each week. I pay for it out of my own pocket, and I'm not about to leave it here for everyone else to use!"
While she hung up her coat, I peeked into a bag of colorful silk flowers. "What craft are you doing today?" I tucked a pink lily behind my ear. "Are you making Hawaiian leis?" I pretended to do the hula.
"Goodness! Don't mess up my things." She yanked the flower out of my hair. "I stayed up half the night getting ready for class today."
She hunched over her box of scissors and popsicle sticks. Her lavender and blue dress made her look even more like Eeyore. My mind tried to find another approach to cheer up Ol' Gloomy Pants.
"Guess what, Mrs. Erston." I bounced into her view. "We have a new student, a first grader named Misty! Her family just moved here from Virginia."
Eeyore threw her hands in the air, turned around, and talked to the ceiling. "Well, that's just great! No one tells me anything. Now I don't have enough material for everyone." She ranted and growled and slammed things on the craft table. "Does anyone tell the art teacher that we have a new student? No . . . Why should anyone think about me?"
I waved my arms and tried to get her attention. "Mrs. Erston . . . Mrs. Erston, no one knew until yesterday. They are only visiting the school today." I might as well have been talking to the spider plant. "Mrs. Erston, Misty won't even be here for art class."
She looked at me. "Misty! What kind of name is that?" She rolled her eyes. "It sounds like the name of a long-haired cat. I'm allergic to cats."
I felt the gloomy fog suffocating me. Lord, help me!
Stepping backwards to let Mrs. Erston put some paint on a shelf beside me, I tripped on the rolling office chair. Hanging on for dear life, I scooted across the floor and into a filing cabinet, landing in a heap on the floor.
Mrs. Erston's eyes grew wide.
I followed her gaze to something above me. A vase wobbled precariously on top of the cabinet. I held my breath. She lunged to save the flowers, but she didn't make it in time.
With a crash and a splash, I was showered with slimy water and a rainbow of carnations. I picked a flower from my drenched hair. "Aloha!"
What was that - a smile?
"Ha! Ha! Ha!" Mrs. Erston pointed at me. Her face scrunched up. "Ha! Ha! Ha!" She plopped into the office chair. "Ha! Ha! Ha!" She wiped tears away. "Ha! Ha! Ha!"
I'm not sure it was all that funny, but it was worth making Eeyore laugh.
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