Toby cut the red construction paper as carefully as his little fingers would allow. He didn’t like the safety scissors they made he and the other kids use in school. At home he could use real scissors as long as mom or dad was watching. He would just have to make due in this classroom.
“Make sure you’re cutting along the outline we traced earlier,” said the teacher, Ms. Carter.
“It would be a lot frigging easier if we had real scissors,” mumbled Toby.
“What was that Toby,” asked Ms. Carter.
“Nothing,” said Toby.
Toby cut along the black outline in the shape of a heart. He would have preferred to cut out something of his own design but Ms. Carter was trying to get all the children to follow directions. Toby guessed that following directions was an important part of learning a useful life skill. He stuck his tongue out the corner of his mouth as he made the difficult final cut of his paper heart. The scraps of the construction paper fell to his school desk and he held up the finished heart.
“Good job Toby. See children, how Toby followed the lines. Now he can come up to the front art desk and pick out what kind of lace he’d like around his heart,” said Ms. Carter.
Toby looked up at Ms. Carter.
“Do I have to put lace around it,” he asked Ms. Carter.
Ms. Carter smoothed the front of her skirt as she moved around to the front of her large desk.
“Of course you need to put lace around the heart. Don’t you want it to be pretty?”
Toby looked at his simple paper heart.
“I think it looks pretty the way it is,” said Toby.
“Don’t you think it can look even prettier with some nice lace around it,” asked Ms. Carter.
“No,” said Toby.
Ms. Carter cringed a bit. Toby saw that she had a sort of smile that wasn’t really a smile on her face. The kind of face her mother made when dad was in the bathroom for too long.
“Come up here and get your lace Toby,” said Ms. Carter.
“I’m pretty sure I like my heart the way it is,” said Toby.
“Get up here and get your lace Toby. I’m not going to tell you again,” said Ms. Carter.
The other children looked away from their glitter, glue, lace and own paper hearts. Toby sighed and got up from his little desk and went to the art table to pick out some lace for his heart. He felt a little sting behind his eyes but he didn’t want to cry. He wanted his heart to be different but was told it had to be like everyone else’s. He didn’t quite know why but he just didn’t want it to be the same.