You can know anything. It's all there. You just have to find it.

-Neil Gaiman


Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to School

Tomorrow I will be headed down to Rochester to spend the day with my friend Stephanie and also to visit her sons' schools, do some reading and drawing with the kids, and sell some copies of Luella.

Stephanie did a great job spreading the word about the book to her coworkers at Mayo Clinic (yes, that clinic), and I will be making my first visit to the Radiology department around noon tomorrow. Thanks again, Steph!

I'll try to remember to take some pictures and put them up later this week. I'm also sure I will have at least one story to tell, how good it will be remains to be seen. I think it's pretty likely when you are dealing with fifty plus 6-8 year-olds that at least one of them will say something funny. Or at least, mildly embarrassing. Which IS funny.

I'm always impressed with teachers who are able to manage that number of kids and keep them under control. What I have noticed is that they LIKE rules; they NEED directions. If you give them specific directions like, "Okay, now we're going take off our mittens and hats. Now we put them on the table. Now we form a line. Now we sit on our bottoms. Now we are quiet and listen." then things seem to go okay because they are eagerly waiting for instruction. If you don't do this, then things can descend into anarchy...monkey house style.

I'm always a little intimidated by a large group of little children. In some ways they are like a pack of dogs--they can smell your fear. It's important to be calm, yet assertive, just like Cesar Milan says. Although he's talking about Schnauzers and Bulldogs, I think the same concept applies.

I'm not sure I would make a good teacher. When I was a junior in high school, our French class spent several weeks during the semester visiting the local elementary school. Every Tuesday we would go to the second grade class to teach them French. Each high school student got a class of 5 kids, and we would teach them things like colors and animals and do little games to introduce them to the French language.

I didn't want to do this.

Because I was terrified.

I don't remember the students in my class. Except for one. I will always remember him. He was the cutest little boy, just like a little chipmunk with big brown eyes and a huge mop of hair. His name was Eugene. And Lord, was he TROUBLE.

The first time I came to teach I let them pick new french names and made them name tags. Eugene didn't want a new name. He smiled at me, "Can you just say it French?" So I just called him Yoooozjean. (I don't know how to write it with a French accent).

One week I came to teach wearing my cheerleading outfit because it was a game day. Yes, I was a cheerleader. I'm sorry.
Eugene smirks as I drew on the chalkboard, "You have nice legs!"
I was being harassed by a seven-year old. I think I said, "Ummm..okay."
Eugene didn't want to learn French colors like Bleu or Rose. "Teach us some swear words," he said. "Dirty words."

I remember thinking, "You and me both, kid." I didn't know any bad words either, except for Merde.

"I can't teach you that."
Again with the evil grin, "How do you say poop?"

Something in me gave in. The bad part of myself who was just like Eugene, always asking questions that no adult was ever going to answer. I always hated that as a kid, that no one ever takes you seriously. They always say something like, "Never mind" or "You don't need to know that." Always brushing you off, and I always said I would be honest with kids, if they asked me a question I would do my best to give them an answer.

I looked at Eugene, the naughty little boy whom I suddenly had great affection for. "I think the French say, 'Le poo'."

This is why I'm not a teacher.

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