Back in Second Grade

I spent my day elbow-deep in red, blue, purple and yellow construction paper. I cut, I stapled, and I took a break to eat food separated neatly on a rectangular melamine tray.

During this lunch (pizza, carrot sticks, a cup of grapes and a carton of chocolate milk), my compatriots and I discussed swallowing loose teeth (yes, the Tooth Fairy DOES come anyway), how Great-Grandpa died when I was a baby (lots of Great-Grandparents die, you know) and everybody’s relatives’ condos in Florida (apparently, having relative with a Florida condo is totes-magotes the done thing). I opened a lot of milk cartons. There’s a trick to the push-pull pressure that allows you to make a nice triangular gap rather than shredding the soggy paper, and I, if I may be so bold, have mastered it.

If you had told me a few months ago that volunteering occasionally for my son’s classroom would be one of my favorite things to do, I’d have laughed at you. I’m not a fan of Other People’s Children. They’re noisy and they always need something wiped. But this has been a great gig.

Frankly, I blame his teacher. Mrs. B. is the closest thing to Mary Poppins I’ve met. She loves the kids, but she’s firm in her kindness. They get their sugar, but they take their medicine.

And her classroom is organized without being ridiculous. Every object has its place and purpose. Bins are sorted and neatly stacked, but she didn’t go crazy with a label-maker in 30 different fonts and paper punches. Her room is the least cluttered environment I’m in outside of our church’s sanctuary.

When I walk in, I know exactly what to do. I don’t have to decide between drafting or wrestling with the plot bunny on page 48. I just pick up the black volunteer crate, and start working through the stack. The classroom hums around me as I cut out paper gumballs for the gumball math chart. Is that a name clip for the behavior chart? I grab the glue gun and make the necessary repairs. Every task has a beginning and an end, and when I’m finished, I get to leave the work behind forever.

Of course, the best part is that my baby boy wants me there. Once they hit fourth grade or so, Mom is decidedly less cool. In the next few years, I go from a ferocious Warrioress of the Paper Cutter to She Who Sells Sodies and Junk In The Booster Club Snack Bar off in the corner over there.

On the upside, I’ll always be welcome to serve the drinks.