Ink

Here’s an idiom most kids DO know: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. They say it to each other when they notice people judging unfairly. They notice it as a moral or message from the author in books they read. It’s on their minds. They’re aware of it. I wish adults were the same.

I helped lead a tour today for parents choosing the right school for their incoming kindergartners. I love doing this. I like interacting with parents, showing them my building and my colleague’s classrooms, and talking about this school that I love so much. It makes me happy. It reminds me how lucky I am to be here.

I woke up tired this morning. I wanted to pull on my faded, comfy sweatshirt and favorite jeans, but I remembered the tour. I wanted to look presentable and professional. We have a relaxed dress code, but I wanted to give off a good impression on behalf of my school. So I found a nicer pair of jeans, a cardigan I hardly ever wear. I put on jewelry. Dug out some shoes that weren’t battered and weirdly colored.

The tours went well. The parents were smiling, absorbing it all, asking questions. While we were watching some second graders work on their writing, one parent leaned in and said quietly, “I have a question.” I saw his eyes on my arm, where my sleeve was rolled up a bit, showing some of a tattoo on my inner forearm. “Do all the teachers here have your level of… ink?” It was sarcastic, it was judgmental, it was condescending. I turned red, and wanted to sink into the floor. I laughed awkwardly. He raised an eyebrow, shook his head slowly at me. Luckily the tour moved on before I had to answer.

I have tattoos. It’s part of my identity. I know some people don’t like them, and that’s fine. I know that it changes the publics perception of me. I’m aware. I don’t regret any of them. I frequently get more.

I shouldn’t have let that comment bother me. I was tired, though, and stressed. I’d taken time out of my incredibly busy day, skipped my lunch, to show these people my community. I wore a cardigan instead of a sweatshirt for them. I am not a cardigan kind of person!

He may have not meant it offensively  I may have imagined or exaggerated the dislike on his face, or his tendency to ignore me and address my colleague for the rest of the tour. Even if I didn’t imagine it, I can console myself that if that bit of ink on my forearm bothered him, he probably wouldn’t like the rest of our non-conventional atmosphere.

In the hindsight of a few hours, it was actually pretty funny. I have thirteen other tattoos he can’t see. THIRTEEN. If it were June and I had been wearing a skirt, he would have seen a few more on my ankles. Nothing huge. Nothing offensive. As for the tattoo that was showing. that bothered him enough to make that comment, it’s a word in ancient Greek. Phonetically, it’s pronounced dedaskalos. It means teacher.

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