In exactly two weeks I will be starting my maternity leave. By this you can infer that I am currently very large. And tired and uncomfortable. But mostly just large.
This largeness does not go unnoticed by the students I work with.
Although the comments, particularly from children with autism have been going on all year, but now that I seem to be expanding daily, AND the students know that I'll be leaving soon the comments, concerns and questions are amplifying.
"Why do you keep your baby in your belly?" (From a third grader with autism)
Another third grader: So how do you get the baby out?
Me: I'll go to the doctor and they'll deliver the baby.
Him: How do they deliver it? They put it in a box and mail it to the hospital and give it to you like delivering a package?
Me: That word deliver makes it sound like that huh? Let's get back to work...
I went to pick up a kindergarten student today for reading group. This was only the second time he was in my group and I guess the first time he didn't notice my large belly. His class was working quietly at reading workshop and I was trying my best to get him and his reading group out of the classroom without disruption. Yet the poor boy couldn't take his eyes off my belly. "Why is your belly so big?" he asked me loudly. When I gave him the quiet signal and pointed toward the door to indicate that he should line up he turned to his friends."Why is her tummy so large? Is her belly big? What's wrong with it?"
I can only imagine the horror he was going through trying to figure out why a teacher would walk around with such a large belly.
At the end of reading group, his eyes still glued to my stomach he asked, "Why did you want to put a baby in your belly?"
"Mrs. Lipstick, when you're baby comes can I be your respite care baby sitter?"
I'm totally touched that this third grade boy would offer, and I do love that he called it respite care. But no. Not going to be the baby sitter.
I'm starting to think that teachers should be granted maternity leave months before the baby is born so we don't have to handle these awkward social questions.