It’s almost time for the bell to ring. I’m listening for it with as much impatience and excitement as the students. For a blessed moment, it is quiet–as quiet as it can be in a middle-school drama classroom.

The room is filled with sixth graders, also known as 11-year-old hormones with names. Their bodies are blossoming but caught halfway–not little boys, but definitely not young men; not small girls, but certainly not women yet. It’s a room full of Abercrombie, Adidas, and attitude, where a splinter and a broken heart elicit the same number of tears; where everything is said in a whisper or a scream; and where, on a daily basis, three or four lifelong friendships are made and ended.

Drama … oh yeah, this is definitely a class that comes naturally to middle schoolers.

I remember the day a life insurance sales rep came to see me at school to fill out some forms. She was a prim, fairly timid woman of about 60 years, with a sweet smile and sensible shoes. The kids were working quietly at the time, and by “quiet” I mean just low enough to actually hear the fire alarm should it go off. When we finished our business, I asked the woman if she would mind sitting there for a minute while I stepped out for a drink of water. Looking around the room, she pleasantly replied in the affirmative.

But the moment I stepped outside the room, the devil grabbed my hand and whispered, “You’re free, you’re free! You could go to the bathroom–she’d never know.” And I let him lead me to the faculty lounge. I left that poor, unsuspecting woman, alone and defenseless in a middle-school drama classroom. What was I thinking?

I did hurry on my way back down the hall, and as I drew closer and began to hear the rising chaos, I actually ran to the door and flung it open. The room was in total darkness.

I reached over to the light switch and flooded the room. There were children on chairs, children on the stage, children upside down, sitting, standing, or caught in mid-stride. And beside my desk, her eyes wide with terror, stood my little insurance lady, trembling, her hair askew and her mouth a tiny O. Before I could utter a word, she was bustling past me out the door, attempting a small, pathetic smile, and mumbling something about how I certainly did need life insurance but there just wasn’t enough money in the world.

I watched her go, filled with guilt. Then I turned back to my children, who were trying desperately to slide silently back into their seats. I looked around at all those beautiful, shining, adorable faces and smiled slowly–the kind of smile you might see in a movie on the face of the nun right before she morphs into a werewolf. Aren’t they just precious? I thought … And I could kill every one of them.