Baptism by Water

Baptism by Water

Our class started in the normal way. First Sister Anne Marie let us in the Our Father and then the Pledge of Allegiance. But then a break in the everyday routine of kindergarten unfolded. Sister Anne Marie left the room and us twenty five-year old children to ourselves. I cannot recall the exact reason for her departure, but it may well have been by her own design. She was known affectionately throughout the school by her students and former students as “Sister Ann Meanie.” She had obtained this notoriety in large part due to her disciplinary actions.  A boy by the name of George was the natural leader of the class and as soon as he noted that she was leaving the room, he set up a lookout at the door of the classroom. He then proceeded to “break the ice,” so to speak, by throwing a piece of chalk the length of the room and shattering it on the brick wall. Although part of the class was a little slow getting into the partying mood, by the end of 10 or 15 minutes, the whole of us were now enjoying recess.

Sister Anne Marie came storming in combat ready. Her thirty-six-inch heavy wooden rifle cracked as it zeroed in on the soft bottoms of revolutionaries. Alas, soon the battle was over, and the prisoners were placed back in uniform rows of desks. “Alright children, everyone will sit perfectly still and not move an inch or make one sound. Your hands will be folded on top of your desk in prayer and your eyes will not leave the cross at the front of the room. You will ask Jesus for forgiveness. You will stay like this for an hour.”

The monster moved mercilessly up and down the rows correcting coughs and side glances and scratches with her ruler. I had so far escaped the sting of correction, but I did not know how much longer I could last. You see, that particular morning, of all mornings, I had neglected the washroom upon waking. I believe it had something to do with my mother getting up late and barely having me dressed by the time the bus was there, or something. Anyway, I was in a real predicament. As the hour was slowly ticking on, my need for the washroom was rapidly building. I could not risk raising my hand. Sister might pounce on me, and I knew one crack from that ruler would be sure to bring more than just pain. Though my eyes by necessity were riveted on the front of the room and on Jesus, I didn’t pray for deliverance. The power of authority seemed to be with the ruler. I felt the climax approaching within me. I let out a slight yell and jumped out of my desk running. The water in my eyes came simultaneously with the water in my pants, but to my surprise, I had escaped to the boy’s washroom. I knew she could not follow me there.

Sister Anne Marie had to get Father Raush to coax me out of the washroom. She couldn’t understand why I had locked myself in a stall and wouldn’t come out when she had sent several different boys in there to say she desired me in the class. She said that I had kicked one boy who had tried to crawl under the stall. When father Rauch came to get me, I felt safe opening the stall door and revealing my wetness to him. He was stronger than Sister Anne Marie and a lot nicer too. Being the good man he was, he smuggled me out of the washroom and to the bus. We drove to the safety of home. He then explained to my mother what happened as I had revealed it to him. He jokingly referred it to as my baptism by water.

The next day at school I was received as a hero by my classmates who knew not all the reasons for my actions the day before. All they knew was that I had dared to defy an insurmountable power and won. I allowed them to pay homage to me. After all, we all need our heroes.