I've been teaching 5th grade for way too many years now...that explains the madness. Anyway, when you teach lower grades, you see the innocence, yes, still, even in the fifth grade, that children possess. It is their redemption ticket when I see them years later in high school (being that I have two high schoolers, I see them often enough), and they have grown out of that innocence and into adulthood. When meeting them, I cast back and grab a memory or two of their innocence and smile away...blissfully ignoring the fact that sweet Jane Doe is missing most of her dress during Ring Ceremony, and turning away from Dear Little Johnny gagging his newest squeeze with his tongue. This can be easily done at these functions due to the obvious rule of teenagers having never been fifth graders to begin with and tend to ignore the waddling former fifth grade teacher that has become a beaming bumpkin standing in the corner.
These reunions are quickly forgotten. However, all are not just ships going by in the night.
Yesterday evening, my loving nephew of almost 21 years stopped by for a visit (I still can't believe he's going to be 21...TWENTY-ONE?!!?). Tagging along with him was his girlfriend, his sister, and his sister's boyfriend. And although sister's boyfriend hadn't been a student of mine, he just couldn't stop himself from talking about how bad he was in the fifth grade, and how mean I was when he was placed on in-school suspension in my room. I went into teacher mode and smiled and beamed and nodded and wished they would just go on home so I could stop listening to what a mean witch I was way back then. To break the monotony of hearing of my bitchness, I told my nephew that Atticus was going to have a birthday this week.
"Whoa, what did you say his name was?" asked the former bad ass.
"Atticus." I replied.
"Atticus, you mean like Atticus Finch?" puzzled look crosses his face.
"Yes, that's him." I nodded.
"Wow, that's like my favorite book in the whole world." he amazingly responded.
And thus melted away the bad ass former student and Miss. Bitchface teacher to be replaced with two people discussing one of the best books ever written, "To Kill A Mockingbird," by Harper Lee. Of course, this could only happen after I wound my jaw back up to the rest of my face, being that my jaw had literally dropped to the ground. Here I was sitting with a kid that almost didn't get out of middle school because of his attitude, discussing Atticus Finch, Boo Radley, and Jean Louise. His favorite scene was at the end when Boo saved Scout. Mine too! He read the book five times! I did TOO! He was bummed out when his teacher assigned the book because he thought it was some stupid crime book. I WAS AND DID TOO!
Amazing, isn't it? What can happen when you take the blinders off.