Today Jay and I walked Grasshopper to school. We went out to the bus stop, and just kept on walking because it was a nice day, and we were talking, and it seemed a shame to just stand around.
When we got to the school, I left Grasshopper at the front door, and proceeded back the way we had come, along the edge of the parking lot where the busses come to park before they drop the kids off.
I heard someone yelling, and I looked around, and realized that one of the 4th grade crossing guards was calling to me :
“Please stay out of the danger zone!”
What? I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then, I realized that he must be talking about the broad yellow stripe painted down the side of the sidewalk. It must have been painted in order to keep people from wandering too close to the bus traffic.
“Oh, sorry!” I stepped out of the “danger zone” and proceeded to walk toward the boy. He looked familiar.
“Thank you.” He said, as I got closer.
“Barry?” I said (Barry isn’t his real name).
“Yes", he replied.
Barry had been in Grasshopper’s first grade class. I had been one of the parents that came in a couple times per week to help out with the reading groups. I often ended up with Barry in my group. He constantly challenged me, was constantly disruptive, asked deliberately inconvenient questions, picked his nose dramatically to make the other kids laugh, pretended that he didn’t know how to read even the simplest words, managed to “lose” every item he needed for the activity at least once, was defiantly, obnoxiously, relentlessly, variously, and creatively difficult.
I really liked him, but I was always exhausted trying to get through the material in the allotted time. He was obviously bright, but such a source of constant disorder that I was shocked to see this miniature engine of chaos before me, his official crossing-guard vest gleaming in the morning sunlight, thanking me for obeying his request that I comply with school rules.
“How are you doing?” I asked him.
“What’s your dog’s name?” He asked.
“He’s not very old, is he?”
“He’s very well trained. “ Barry complimented.
“Thanks. I’d better let you get back to work.”
“Yeah. It was nice talking to you.”
Talk about weird. In three short years my primary discipline nemesis had transformed into a polite, mature, social mini-adult responsible for helping maintain order and safety in his school.
I STILL feel a little dizzy