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Episode 04: Shitting My Pants In Front Of My Students

Storytellers: Kelly White

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When you have to go, but you're in charge of a group of children.

I teach third graders. They are 8 and 9, and they're smart but they're not super smart. They're confused a lot of the day.

I woke up one Monday morning and I was not feeling great. I wasn't feeling good, but I was like, It'll pass. I'll go to work and it'll be fine.

On Mondays I always get to work really early (about 6:30) so I can I set up for the whole week and then feel less stressed the rest of the week. But I was struggling that morning and didn't wind up getting there until 7:00, so I felt a little flustered.

When I got there I was feeling awful, but I was moving the whole time, so I was functioning and everything was fine.

We went downstairs to the gym about an hour and a half later to get our students, and we have to say a school pledge. And as the school pledge is happening, students are saying things like, "As a student at Adams Elementary School I pledge to be the best that I can be at all times because I am somebody." It's an amazing pledge. It really empowers everyone if they're feeling like they can be empowered. It's really beautiful, but it happens every day. It's a really monotonous thing, and it lasts about four minutes. But my class was the first class to leave the gym.

As they start the pledge I'm feeling like this isn't going to happen. I had stood still for the first time all morning. So I just sprint all the way across the school, because there is not a teachers' bathroom near the gym. (It would be weird if I was having diarrhea in the students' bathroom.)

I made it the extra 35 feet, and nothing happens. I was like, False alarm, it's just gas.

I boogie it back to get in my line, and they are already walking down the hallway. They know the route. They're capable. I meet them where they are, and we walk upstairs. We do the whole morning thing. We're talking about our lives. My students get to share something big that has happened to them. Usually sharers involve things like why they don't have their homework, or if they had a football game that was exciting that weekend, or if they went to a Rams game. Always when they're doing their morning meeting, I'm also doing other things. Moving.

But then their bathroom break occurs. I'm standing in the hallway monitoring their bathroom break and there is only so much movement you can do between the girls' and the boys' bathroom. So I was standing basically still, and again I'm getting this feeling like I'm going to die. It's going to happen. Right here right now. I'm going to pass out.

And so I call a very reliable student over. I said, "Janyah, I need you to run across the hall to Miss Hogan's room and say, 'Step out into the hallway. Miss White has an emergency. She's going to use the restroom.'"

Janyah did the double thumbs-up and the silent wink and was like, "I know you, Miss White. We're good."

So I run to the bathroom. My cell phone is not with me, and I can hear the kids outside. They weren't being very loud, but loud enough that I could hear them. And I'm in the bathroom. This is happening. What do I do? It's okay. It's fine.

I reached a stopping point. And I quickly go into the classroom and I think, It'll be fine. The worst has past. Everything is fine.

And we enter the classroom, they all sit down, and I'm walking because I realize that's what's preventing all of it. Cardio.

So I'm doing laps. I have my cell phone in my hand. I use my timer in the classroom. So I was walking around, walking around, and we get 15 minutes into the heart of the lesson. The really meaty part of the lesson. And I'm like [grunts]. But it was not an appropriate place to tell everyone to pause their thinking and write down in their workbooks. I couldn't do that and they weren't ready to write the next question down.

So I just stood there and was like, Oh no! Oh no! Oh no! What's happening? Oh no!

And my students are having a discussion. They lead the discussions. They were in the middle of probably the most beautiful, brain-powered moment ever, but I couldn't leave the kids alone. I'm standing there, like, By the time someone gets up here from the office … and there's nothing for them to do when they get here. Oh my god! It's happening.

It was a very stressful moment.

I'm standing there, and it's taking me 30 seconds to think through all the options, and also simultaneously call on a couple kids.

And then I kind of had to … squat.

I was standing in the doorway. It was a weird squat. A sideways, cross-legged squat.

It was awful!

I was like, Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!

But my cell phone was in my hand, so I called down to the office and the secretary (who is one of my besties) answered. I was like, "Someone needs to come up here immediately."

And she was like, "Ooh, Boo, are you kidding me?"

And I was like, "Nope! I am not kidding you."

So, obviously, Mr. Robinson, The Hot Sub, comes upstairs. And I'm like, "Hey Mr. Robsinson, could you watch my class real quickly?"

I had waddled over to my teacher area. I have air freshener up there. So I grabbed the air freshener. I do this all the time because they fart a lot. I was just kind of squirting it at them. My kids were like, "It wasn't me this time!"

And I was like, "I know, I know it wasn't you. It was me." But I wasn't saying that. I was just like, "Mmmhmm," as I'm squirting air freshener at their faces.

Mr. Robinson is an R&B singer. He's so beautiful. I was like, Great, thank you. This isn't making me feel better.

So I go into the bathroom, and I'm having diarrhea. Uncontrollable. It was a disaster.

So I call Ms. Hogan, my across-the-hall teacher. And I'm like, "Grace, Grace, this is urgent." And I'm calling her on her school phone. I said, "Hey are we on speaker phone?"

She said, "No."

I said, "Great. I'm having uncontrollable diarrhea. I'm in the restroom. Mr. Robinson is with my kids. I need you to go to the sub bin. I need you to get the stuff out for the sub. I need you to then take my kids out so I can go into the room. Because my pants are filled with shit. And I need to get my purse and my jacket. And then I need to drive home."

And she laughed. She was like, "Okay. Alright."

So I walk out into the hallway and my principal is standing there, and he's like, "What's going on?"

Because I'm always with my class when I'm supposed to be.

I was like, "Well, I'm just a little sick."

And his instant thought was, Oh, morning sickness. He instantly thought I was pregnant. He was like, "Oh! Miss White! Oh, Miss White!"

And I was like, "Nooo! Opposite end!"

And he goes, "Oooh, dear. I'll sign you out, you just go."

I'm like, "Okay, great!"

But then I have to drive home.

And it was the most stressful drive of my life. I was literally standing with one foot on the pedal and the other foot underneath me, propping my body up. But I also had to wait 15 minutes in the bathroom because it was uncontrollable.

It was the worst thing that ever happened.

And, in hindsight, it appears that it was food poisoning, but why wasn't it throw-up food poisoning?

It was the worst experience of my young life, but my students had no idea.

They watched me poop. They were looking at me.

I was making eye-contact with kids literally shitting my pants.