LESSON: Kids are fun; enjoy them. Though the education of our youth is serious business, that business improves when we’re not so serious.
My first year teaching was a disaster – or so it felt anyway. The persistent wiggles and frequent tears from of my students produced the unfortunate side effect of the same in me, and in surprising equal proportion too! The intensity of the management and frequency of the unexpected had challenged my once robust stamina.
Well, Back to School Night eventually arrived the day before school itself was to begin. I put on my best professional attire, pasted on a forced smile, and began welcoming each child and their parents to my well-manicured classroom. In they came, one by one, greeting me with shy grins, one word hello’s, and limp handshakes. In my attempt at perfection, I found myself in a shell, unable to make effort to help them climb out of theirs.
Then, mercifully, in walked little McKenzie, a spit-fire redhead. “Hi, I’m McKenzie,” she greeted with confidence. “You can call me Kenzie!”
“Well, welcome to class Kenzie. I’m glad you’re here,” I replied.
“I’m six years old. How old are you?”
“Oh, that’s a bold question young lady. How old do you think I am?”
“You look like you’re fifty-seven.”
I smiled a little, caught off guard at the doubling of my age. “Fifty-seven? Really? What makes you say that?”
With hesitation and with all the confidence bred from the thousands of curly red strands of hair, she bellowed, “Well, because you have a big nose!”
I caught my breath then took a step back as her parents stepped forward to intervene and apologize. I smoothed my skirt and stroked my forehead – then, I felt the laughter begin to tickle my chest. I looked at Kenzie and her wild hair, let my face grow to a wide grin, then gave way to the gut-laughter boiling within. I burst with a howl of pleasure, letting loose the pent-up stress I’d given way to all summer. Kenzie’s innocent insult taught me exactly what I needed: I’m in this for the kids, and they are a ball of fun.