Friday, January 18, 2008

to you happy near

I don't know what it is about kids, but they sure are funny little creatures. Maybe it's from watching Juno the other night, and realizing that was never the teenage world I lived in...and then the next day, as a substitute teacher, being confronted with 4th grade girl in-fighting that seems like only yesterday to me and my life. I'm so incredibly touched by these kids: the cool ones, the self-proclaimed (though some tortured) nerds, the ones that keep to themselves, the ones that seems light years ahead of all the adults around them, the ones that talk too much and the ones that whisper every word.
I remember being there and have absolutely NO desire to go back....and yet, when I see confident joy in one kid, or heart-breaking pain in another one, I do wish I could go back, knowing what I know now. Well, I can't do that, of course, so I make the most of the time I am among them and, hopefully, gain a bit more wisdom on how to be a positive presence in their life.
I subbed an art class the other day. I'm there about once a month or more, subbing, in this particular class and we've grown on each other. The very first time I was there, I was going around the room and asking each kid his name and a couple of the boys told me the wrong name and that got them all giggling and I really hate to stop a giggling fest, when a couple of the girls yelled out (they're always telling on the boys, it cracks me up!) "Those aren't their real names, they're not telling you their real names!!" So, I made a deal with the whole class, girls and boys: You could ask me to call you anything you wanted, as long as you told me your real name first. They LOVED that and started going around the circle,
"...maggie, but i wanna be called gumi bear",
"...joe, but i wanna go by strongman",
",! No,"
Okay. Will do!
So, anyway, they've remembered this, and usually remembered their nicknames from month to month. I have to wing it and ask them every time. But they don't seem to mind. In fact, there's a strange endearing way we have towards one another. Which leads me to these beautiful pieces:
Two different girls in the 3rd grade brought these to me at the end of class. The Jackson Pollack one had to leave class early to get braces put on. It killed me to see her big blue eyes looking up at me and telling me the news. She didn't seem to particularly mind, but my gums receded just thinking about it. Dang, I'd been there, I'd worn the headgear. I felt for her. So, as she left class, I waved after her and said something stupid like, "Be Brave!" I say something "stupid" like that, cuz she wasn't even nervous about it. I was!
The other card is from this cute little one that I'd had an in-depth convo about webkins with at recess. When she first came up and tapped me on the elbow (just to give you some kind of height reference we're talking about here for these little "grownups"), I turned around and smiled and said, "Happy New Year!" and she responded, very adult like, "Happy New Year to YOU!" Two hours later, she was in my art class and presented me with this.
I didn't realize until I got home how it reads, Happy Near Molly. wow.
Of course, she didn't mean it that way, but I like to think the meaning was inside the message, 'cuz I'm so happy near them.


sophia said...

molly...i love this post. you placed me in a time warp thinking about all of the cool and not so cool subs. i think it's safe to say you're not part of the latter. and the "happy near molly" sweet.

Ellen said...

I wish I'd had you as a sub. Because you are warm and kind and open, and that's priceless. So glad you saw Juno. I've been wanting to since we talked about it at Thanksgiving. MM and I saw it for my bday (1/17) and I loved it. On a side note (and because I am who I am) I gotta say, the horticulture sucked. I mean, Summer w/daffodils and cherry blossoms? I don't think so!

Anonymous said...

Great story. Art can say things that can't otherwise be expressed and you've managed to open that door for these kids. Both you and the class are fortunate to have each other.

comfies said...

my heart just got several degrees warmer while reading all that.