And then he kissed me. He was my grade five teacher, Mr. Woodward. It was not a peck on the cheek, but smack-dab wet on my lips. I was ten years old. I never told anyone.
I had stayed after school to help him clean up. Perhaps he asked me to, I don’t remember. I wiped the chalkboard and placed fresh white chalk on the ledge so it would be ready for the next morning. The air was redolent with fine particles of chalk dust.
My teacher had also taught my older brother a few years earlier. My mother invited Mr. Woodward to dinner, he became a friend of the family. After we moved to Canada from New York, he came to visit and stayed with us for a few days. I remember him sitting at one of the swivel chairs in our avocado-coloured kitchen.
I didn’t tell my parents because it didn’t seem so strange for a teacher to thank me by giving me a kiss. Even though it felt kind of funny, I think it was an innocent kiss. But when I told my daughter and step-daughters about it fifty years later, they thought it constituted sexual assault. Times have changed.