The news would have caused a wide-spread hysteria that I just wasn't up for.
The news, that is, of what was hanging out at the bottom of the recycling bin. (You know this is not going to be pretty--stories of trash cans and other trash-adjacent receptacles rarely end well. OK wait--I seem to have amassed a fair number of trash stories over the years....)
We begin at the top of the recycling bin, however, where I spotted a couple of decidedly non-recyclable items. "You know what does not belong in the bin, children? Used tissues!" Annoyed by this persistent problem, I hauled the blue paper recycling bin out into the hall to dump out the offending Kleenex.
And there, in the hallway, I discovered what REALLY does not belong in the recycling bin. A dead rat.
Did you just throw down your laptop for fear the germs / black plague would leap from the rat to the computer via the telling of this story, and then from there onto your skin? 'Cause I almost did just now. Bleh! Bleh! Bleh!
I dropped the bin and froze. I looked up at Layla who had been out in the hallway to throw something away. She had seen it too. We wrinkled up our faces and said to each other, Bleh! Bleh! Bleh! I pictured twenty-seven different diseases, taking the form of wavy blue and purple lines, emanating from the [it's just so gross, I can't say it again]. Mustering all of my most grown-up fortitude, I summoned some composure and pushed the bin off to the side of the hallway.
I then set about the task of convincing Layla, my co-witness of a week's worth of disgustingness, of the need for discretion.
Yes, we would need to keep this on the Down Low in order to avoid mass hysteria the minute we stepped back in the classroom. Third graders, however, are not versed in the art of discretion.
Their preferred voice level for dispersal of information is ridiculously loud. Their preferred audience for dispersal of information is everyone within earshot of my ridiculously loud voice.
Ms. Sarah attempts to surreptitiously kill a spider crawling up the wall while everyone is working at literacy centers? "I am going to be the first to tell everyone this!" "I am going to be the loudest to tell everyone this!"
It starts to snow (which it happened to do today) during writing? "I am going to be the first to tell everyone this!" "I am going to be the loudest to tell everyone this!"
"Look." I told Layla. "Think about what would happen if everyone heard about what we saw at the bottom of that recycling bin. They'd freak out, right? And we wouldn't learn anything, and it would be a disaster, no? So what we're going to do, Layla, is we're going to go right back in there, and just say nothing about this. Can we do that?" Layla nodded.
And that's just what we did. We kept that dead li'l rat to ourselves. And after lunch when I reminded everyone about cleaning up their crumbs so as to avoid any unwelcome creatures, Layla and I exchanged a knowing look.