, Newburyport, MA


September 18, 2013

Only in second grade!


“Sir, she has two teeth missing in front — but they’ll grow back!”

He paused briefly to give her a reassuring smile.

“What she is trying to tell you is that second-graders can only “print” in the beginning of the year but later in the year will know how to write “cursive.”

Another lad with a little-professor air about him added: “As a teacher, you should have known that!”

I managed a straight face.

“And sooooooooo,” continued the class interpreter, “could you pleeeaaaase erase your cursive name and print it?”

Rarely have I moved faster in following student directions.

This time, as I turned around to face the class, I was greeted by a general round of applause and affirmation.

The day went very well and I wound up returning for the next few weeks until a more-seasoned, permanent sub could be found.

My initial, unintended error had “enabled” these students; they had been given the rare opportunity of directing the teacher before the teacher had exercised the frequent opportunity of directing “them” —and they loved it!

On my way out the door that afternoon, I shared my “pwint-curthive” experience with the principal. She laughed: “Only in second grade! Only in second grade can folks go from sad and teary-eyed to ecstasy and joy, and, what’s most fascinating, all in 30 seconds!”

I think about that principal’s comment every time a new school year begins and I agree with her.

At the same time, I contend that there is a second-grader in “all” of us.

You may remember “Transactional Analysis” of yesteryears, the contention that all of us have five ego states: nurturing parent, critical parent, adult, adaptive child, and — the one that keeps us young — free child.

In other words, the free child in all of us is capable of moving from sadness to joy, though not necessarily in 30 seconds.

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