february already

I'm not actually sure how to tee up this week. So much, really, to process.

Was it when I learned we had stronger "sides"? A tumble on the soccer field on a left knee is fine. But a right side fall needs to go to the nurse.

"My left side is stronger than my right side," he told me. "So my left knee can be hurt more than my right one. The right one has to go to the nurse."

"Ah." And what could I say, really?
"Indeed." I agreed.

We get stickers every day in 2nd grade for most excellent behavior. Mainly two a day. After 40, they pick from the Rock Star Jar--a colorful little blessing we have been staring down the barrel of all week long. Like dominoes they have earned forty.

"Tomorrow I will have forty!" She said.
And I reacted, "Tomorrow you'll be FORTY?! Lawd, you don't look a day over seven!!"

She looked at me with the big eyes. "Forty STICKERS!" She clarified, but the kid in the back flew helplessly sideways as he caught the joke. Oh, I do spy a clever one among our ranks.

"Do you want to look at your picture?" The school photographer asked me today.

"Oh, I don't even care. I'm sure it's fine..."

"Well, your hair is a little in your face."
"Again. Totally fine." I'm literally never going to buy these pictures.

But today was picture day. Is there anything better than a 7 year old smile for the camera? The bows. The braids. The missing teeth. That sweet, sweet moment frozen in time. Hair-in-my-face and all. I mean, teachers....#amiright? The harried, windblown look is the perfect snapshot of a covid-era teacher.

But the best. The best I wasn't even there for. It was recess. Afternoon recess to be precise and I only received the report after.

It seems the girls were playing "Mrs. Mudd and Mrs. Kleckner"--a little game we don't usually see until February or so. It is late in the year. Usually when kids are stuck indoors due to cold or nasty weather when they start playing school.

And it is then. It is then when teachers truly, truly meet themselves. Their words. Their phrases. Their motions and inflections.

But this class is a February-already-class, if there ever was one. Something about them feels dear and close already.

"I'M MRS. MUDD!" One of the girls was reported to say, "AND I AM MRS. KLECKNER!" So says the other.

"Mrs. Mudd walks like this," {flouncy, flouncy} "And she's always like, 'Where did I put my GLASSES?!"

"And Mrs. Kleckner is all like...Where did I put my keys??"

"And then Mrs. Mudd is like, 'What the HECK? Let's just go get some coffee and donuts!"

And then, ostensibly, we leave the classroom at that point. For coffee.
And donuts.

See? It's just that easy to be a teacher.

~Originally published September 2020

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