I suppose we all tend to age. After all, it’s part of being human, but some of us never fully appreciate the move from youth to geriatric status until something or someone reminds us. In my case it was yesterday while substitute teaching for a second grade class, somewhere in Florida.
Lester smiles up at me. His two front teeth are missing. “That’s a beautiful necklace you wearing.”
“Thank you. My mommy gave it to me,” I say. I touch the metal at the base of my throat and hand him back the math assignment he has been working on. “Everything looks correct. You did a good job, Lester.”
He grins up at me again and says: “I like your earrings too. They’re shiny. ”
“Well thank you for noticing. That’s very kind of you.”
“I like the way they shine too,” a little girl, wearing pig tails with pink ribbons in her hair and a pink dress with short ruffled-sleeves and white polkadots, sitting at the next desk, joins the conversation.
“Thank you, Abagail.”
“You have a pretty dress too,” Cameron, the boy sitting on the other side of her speaks up. His giggle is infectious. Some of the other children catch it and laugh aloud.
“My what a polite class. I feel so welcome ”
“Can we move up to purple now,” Joshua asks. His blond hair is cut short on the sides and he sports a mullet and a broad metal-smile.
“What?” He is referring to the behavior chart hanging by the Smart board. It has five sections of various colors, red at the bottom and the top tier is purple and representative of the best behavior that usually leads to some form of praise and benefits bestowed by their teacher. Each child’s name is written on a wooden clothespin that is attached to the chart.
“Oh, can I do it. Miss, Mimi, can I move up the pins?” The children all ask simultaneously. The noise level in the classroom jumps ten decibels.
“Hey, slow down. Quiet. What’s this all about?”
“Our teacher said if we are good and make you feel at home well get a surprise,” Lester explains
“Yeah, we might get a party when she comes back,” another boy says and the class erupts again.
“Is that why you are so full of compliments?” I looked at Lester. “You all want something? ”
“Nah. She said you are a granny and not to make you upset or you might, you might, um, get sick in your heart and die,” Lester looks down at his desk.
“She didn’t say that,” Abigail corrects him. She stands up, puts her hands on her hips, and looks down at Lester.
“Did too,”Lester snaps back.
“Did not,” Corrina jumps in. “She said we’re getting a substitute teacher for a few days and not to give her a hard time or we won’t get our party.”
“She said her name was Mimi. My mom’s granny is called Mimi, and she gets sick every time she comes to are house, so there,” Lester defends.
Oh, boy. That about sums it up. Kids, you gotta love ’em.