I sat in the back of Ms. Pesko’s sixth grade class. It was a pretty full class and we even had to get other desks from different classrooms for all the kids we had in the room. But I only had her for Homeroom and Science. We did have this one class that was like a “teen issues” kind of class. We watched the after school special about teens smoking pot. In one scene the girl was high and drove off a cliff. We all laughed as she yelled, “wheeee” when the car was plunging down the ravine. The class was a joke and we all understood it wasn’t cool to actually buy into all the “stay in school”, “don’t kill yourself”, and “talk it out” propaganda Ms. Pesko was giving us. However, there was this one lesson that stuck to me.

Ms. Pesko was lucky. She had a sink in her classroom. It worked out real well when someone started bleeding from a cut or in the heat of the end of the school year. We were allowed to bring in plastic cups and drink from the sink. I’m sure we all have lead poisoning now and that may in fact explain a lot of things.  But this one day, she used the water in the sink for a lesson in our teen issues class.

“I want you to all look at this glass” Ms. Pesko said as she placed the clear glass under the silver faucet of the sink. “Think of each drop of water as a problem” she continued filling up the glass and we continued watching her and I wondered where she was going with this. When it was almost filled to the top  she asked us, “This is a lot of problems, huh?”

In the class choir style we answered, “Yes”.

“What will happen if I add more water?” Her hand was on the knob as she waited for a response. John in the front row raised his hand and she nodded at him.

“It will overflow.”

“That’s right John. The glass will overflow if I keep putting more water in it.” She removed her hand from the knob and came around the front of the room. She twirled the glass in front of us as if she were Hamlet gazing into Yorick’s skull. The class was silent. She had my attention. She walked back to the sink and turned the knob on. The water rushed out and she put the glass under its  flow. As John stated, the cup overflowed.

“This cup represents your ability to handle problems. If you continue putting more problems into your “glass” then it will overflow and you will crash. however, ” Ms. Pesko dumped the water out and let the cup get half full once again and held it up to us, “if you let some of those problems out” she poured some water out and held the glass up again. “Then you can make room for new problems and you won’t overflow.”

I looked at the cup and realized she just explained me. I was well aware how all my problems were stuffed inside me. I never dreamed they would just pour out of me. I was scared. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to others about all that went on in my head yet I heard when Ms. Pesko said that was the only way to stop the flood. One day, my glass was going to overflow.

I am that glass of water. My whole life I have been taught to just swallow my problems. Stuff them deep inside my little glass and don’t let the glass spill. In order to achieve the balance of water in the glass verses out of the glass, crazy things happen. I will start crying for no reason. Something dumb like a silly name will tip the glass over. I look crazy and I feel crazy, but I am neither of these things. It isn’t the name I’m upset about, it is all the other things slowly piling up. They all reach the top of the glass and then when one silly, off-handed comment comes out, I have no more room to stuff anything down and I cry.