Art by Matthew, 2nd grade
On Friday, I subbed in a 2nd grade class, at a school where I also do poetry residencies. As I scanned the plans the teacher left for me, I noticed a tip-off at the top of the page. A list of children’s names that might cause trouble, along with those I could rely on if I needed help. Often good information to have, but the former is not always true from this sub’s point of view.
The kids streamed into the classroom at 8:50, bundled to the hilt in their winter gear. It was 7 degrees outside and we all knew there’d be no recess that afternoon. Seven-year-old chatter rang through the room, as I stood amongst them, a tad overwhelmed by the early morning chaos a sub always brings.
Though I’d printed Ms. Weis in large blue letters across the white board, a small boy came up to me with sparkle in his eyes, and asked me my name. When I told him who I was, he thrust out his little hand in search of a handshake. And as I placed mine in his, he shook it firmly and announced in his little-man voice, “Hi. My name is Carlos,” with a smile that lit up his earnest face. My heart opened wide and the tenseness I always feel as I approach a new subbing assignment seemed to melt away.
His name was one of those on the troublemakers list, and I imagined whatever else he did that day, would be fine with me. Though Carlos had difficulty staying focused through much of my time with them, I sensed this little man/child would make it just fine in this world.
Let’s face it. Who doesn’t like a nice firm handshake coming their way?