NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 18, 2013

Only in second grade!

The telephone rang at 5 a.m.

Five o’clock in the morning!

There are birds and squirrels still asleep at that hour, let alone human b-e-a-n-s.

I had the same fear and trepidation as many of you: “Who died?”

(A friend of mine has a slightly different twist: “Who died and left me money?”)

It was an elementary school principal — and her voice rang with desperation. The hour alone had already proven that.

“I need a sub for second grade!” she pleaded.

I knew the specific class of which she spoke; it had a district-wide reputation as “The Class from Never-Never Land” because teachers never returned a second time.

“Hmmm! Grade 2. Isn’t that the age group that bites you in the ankle while you’re trying to teach?” I teased. “That’s not exactly my area of expertise.”

A pregnant pause!

“Come on, big guy, you’ll love them and they’ll love you!” she chanted in sing-song fashion.

I love the way elementary school staff sing their words!

I can be seduced with flattery — the term “big guy” got my ego — and I agreed to sub “but only for the day.”

Upon entering the classroom, I did what most teachers do: wrote my name on the board.

As I turned around, student faces said it all. Half were sad and on the verge of tears while the other half were either fearful or markedly displeased.

“What?”

Silence.

“Girls and boys, Mr. G has been here for all of one minute. What’s wrong?”

“We don’t do curthive!” a little girl from the back of the room bellowed.

“Excuse me?”

“We don’t do curthive; we can only pwint!”

A tiny lad in the front row, the class self-appointed interpreter, rose to the occasion like a prophet.

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