Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well, That Didn’t Go Quite As Planned

I wrote this post in my head Monday afternoon after my last conference that day.  It was based on something that was going to happen on Tuesday, and I was so confident that I knew exactly how things would play out that I almost wrote it on my computer and I almost went ahead and set it to auto publish.  However, the little voice inside my head told me to wait so that I could get the details exactly right.  I’m glad I listened…

I have this kid in my class who is every teacher’s dream.  Actually, he is every person’s dream.  He is smart, kind, helpful, focused, meticulous in his work, athletic…your basic perfect kid.  Yes, I know there is no such thing as perfect, but this kid comes pretty darn close.  In fact, as I was gushing to his parents at his conference about how truly wonderful he is, I told them not to even bother to try and tell me some story about how naughty he is at home because I simply wouldn’t believe them!

His birthday happened to be the day after his conference, which happened to be the last day of conferences (conferences mean half days, so lucky him, his birthday was on a half day).  He has been talking about his birthday for a while now and how excited he is that it falls on a half day and all of the neat things that he and his mom and his sisters will be doing.  Each time he has mentioned his big day he has been sure to say, “My dad doesn’t have a half day at work so he won’t be there.”

Well, little did he know…at his conference his parents mentioned that his dad was, in fact, taking the day off for his birthday and that they were going to surprise him when they brought his birthday treats to our classroom, which meant I would get to be in on the surprise, which also meant that I would get to see his reaction.  I was so jazzed!

First off, can I just say how cool it is that his dad had finagled the day off?!  That alone made my day.  In my mind I pictured my student’s face lighting up and the huge smile that would appear when he saw that his dad was with his mom.  They had it all planned out…the dad was even going to move his car down the street and go for a long run in the morning so that my student would believe his dad had really gone to work.  So cool!

As I mentioned before, I almost went home after the conference and wrote this entire story, complete with my student’s stunned and thrilled reaction.  Only, it didn’t quite go down like that. 

At the appointed time, his mom and little sister show up and they go about their business at the sink washing the strawberries and such.  My classroom is set up old-school style in that all of the desks are in rows, facing forward (I’ve tried grouping them in “pods” but I find I can’t hold anyone's attention that way).  So anyway, everyone is facing forward, the mom and sister are at the sink, and my student goes to the prize box, which is near the sink, to pick out his birthday prize.

He’s got his head in the box and his dad comes in behind him.  My student has no idea that he’s there.  In fact, as my student backs away from the prize box, he brushes against his dad and doesn’t even notice!  He literally ran into his dad as he was turning to head for the door to put his prize in his backpack.  He’s taken about five steps away from his dad and his dad finally says something and I’m thinking here it comes:  The Big Reaction (gosh, I hope I don’t cry…gosh, I hope he doesn’t cry).

Needless to say, not a single tear is shed…he, get this, he waves to his dad and continues out the door to his backpack!  His dad looks and me and we both just smile and shrug our shoulders.  Not exactly the reaction we were expecting. 

I admit I was disappointed at the lackluster reaction, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that that’s just who this kid is.  He’s very focused and he knows that school is business.  I know he was glad his dad was there, and I know when we do our “share out” in the morning that he’ll mention it, and I’m sure he’ll even write about it in his journal, but in that moment, he was all about following the rules and putting his prize in his backpack and returning to his seat, and really, who can blame him for that?

As I thought about this incident I came to realize that if the whole smarts thing doesn’t work out for this kid, and, well, if the whole athletic thing doesn’t work out either, and, ya’ know, well, if the whole Mr. Perfect thing doesn’t go as planned, then I’m certain that  this kid could have a future playing cards.  I know this will be of no comfort to his parents, but talk about your poker face!  Man, that kid is smooth!

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