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Coping, education, employment, Hope, Faith, students, Teaching, Wisdom

Why substitute? It don’t pay!

There is no secret that I ain’t got no job and my prospects of finding one is bleak. I sub for other teachers who have a job. I make about sixty dollars a day after taxes. Pitiful absolutely. Doesn’t even day the bills. What the hell?

Went out bought a few things and changed my house for the holidays. For a brief time, life was good. Of my small family, we are missing two. I think I am stuck in a blessing to be able to enjoy some moments of happiness. No money for gifts. Barely enough money for food, but we laughed.

It was the day before Christmas break. Fell in love with the cutest little white kid. (I was at an elementary school. In elementary schools, students see one as who they are with no shame. Comforting actually.) He was badly misbehaving. He was throwing a desk and a chair in the hallway of the elementary school. Believe it or not, no one got up and checked on all that noise! I grew up in Detroit where no one runs toward trouble. Here little resembled Detroit. I went and peeked into the hall. I saw a small white boy, not a surprise considering I was in a white school district. He picked up the desk twice or more and threw it. It was a little desk. Still, I was shocked that no one responded. Finally a (real) teacher stuck her head out of the door into the hall and threatened the student with, “Someone is coming to get you. So stop it!”

The child was clearly perturbed. He continued his assault on the lockers, the desk and the chair. I did not have a class. I ventured out into the hallway to search for a teacher. None available. No one could do anything. They had their own classes to cope with. I told a teacher I would keep an eye on him until help arrived.

I turned to the kid and said in my best grew up in Detroit teacher voice, “Hit me with that desk or chair, I am calling the police. Then Santa will not be visiting your house!” I then began scanning my email on my phone while keeping a discrete eye on the kid.

Five minutes later, the small, young boy slowly creeps and stands near me. I ignore him. After a few minutes, I complimented his jeans which had a nice design on them. He grunted. Five minutes later again, he uprights the chair and motions for me to sit. The motion was so slight, I just barely caught the movement. I gave him a huge smile. The gesture surprised me greatly.

Then, he totally, unexpected nudged me and slid his way to my side and hugged me. “I did not get any sleep last night.” He said quietly.
“Me either,” I replied looking at him. “Got any brothers or sisters keeping you awake?” I asked.
I was sitting. He was standing. Therefore, we could see eye to eye.
“Yes”, he said. “My brother is five years older than I am.”
“Really! My sister is sixteen years younger than me.” I replied.
His eyes got big. “That means she was born when you were sixteen? And when she turned sixteen you were thirty two!” I looked at him with great respect and nodded my head surprised.
“Yep.” I replied.
“Well, how old is she now? He asked.
“Oh, about forty one or so.” I rattled off.
His eyes got bigger.
“That means you are fifty seven!” He said profoundly. I was stunned. I had to do the math to check. Damn! I thought. I did not see that coming. I never tell my age. He asked if I had more brothers and sisters.
I said, “Yes,but never see them.” He asked me why? I told him they live too far away. “Where?” He asked.
“Guess.” I asked. He did. He started naming places. I was shocked to hear the depth of his knowledge. I told him. He replied that no wonder I did not see them. He wanted to know if it had been a long time since I saw him. I asked, “How old are you?
“Eight.” He said.
“It has been more than eight years since I saw my sister.” I stated.
“Wow! That is my entire life. Do you miss them?” He said looking directly into my eyes inches from my face.
“No, not really.” I replied. “They do not like me much.”
“I understand.” he said. “People do not like me much either! He patted my hand quietly.

Then suddenly this delightful child changed back to the brat I met a short time earlier. He looked at me. His eye locked on my eyes. I understood. Then the delightful little boy disappeared and was gone. The boy who threw the desk was back in the face of the boy who continued to stand in front of me. The anger returned. What happened I wondered? What changed him?

The counselor grabbed the fallen desk. The student was pulled away. I walked in the opposite direction with another student that suddenly appeared. I paused to look over my shoulder. I was saddened. The magical moments were gone. I wanted more. He was so smart. So bright. No wonder he was having trouble in school. He was not what his peers would call normal. And he like me. So cool.

After that, nothing could ruin my day. We made a connection that day with each other. I enjoy teaching because of the special students- like him. I saw me in him.

His teacher came out. She told me he was on the second day of his new behavior program. He failed. He always wanted attention. Heck! Me too. I thought. I had enjoyed a delightful conversation with a troubled second grader. I loved it. He made my day. Students like him allow me to step off the merry-go-around of life. I had a grown up conversation with a second grader-a “bad one” at that and loved it. He liked me for me. Did not care that I was different. That I was a substitute teacher. To him, I was not worthless or jobless or broke. He was my early Christmas present. He gave me a big dose of, “I think I can” from the Little Engine That Could.

I can continue. I think I can! I think I can! I can!

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