I had the privilege of spending time with first graders while subbing as their P.E. coach’s sidekick. They were a good group and I wish I could have been with them longer. I couldn’t say that about the 3-6th grades. HA!
It is a good thing I have gotten over my “age sensitivity” when it comes to what comes out of children’s mouths. The first graders had a different perspective than mine of what “old” is. I have no doubt I had the same perspective when I was their age. Just like I did, they’ll change their perspective when they get older. If memory serves me right, my perspective changed around the time when I started saying to folks I had reached middle age and no one blinked.
I was exercising with the 1st graders doing jumping jacks, jogging in place, etc. One of them said to me, “I didn’t know Grandmas could walk fast.” Instead of informing him that I wasn’t anybody’s grandma, I just told him a fact of life: Grandmas can walk fast! I have been an eyewitness such as way back when my Grandma chased after me when I was on the loose.
When we took the 1st graders outside to walk laps around the field, one of them asked me how old I was and I told him “30”. He didn’t fall for it. He told me his father is 42 and I sure looked older than his Dad. I finally confessed my age of 58 and he said, “You are old!” I wonder what he would think if he met my Aunt who is 88. Ancient, I guess.
This child did not leave my side as we walked outside with his class. I didn’t know at the time he and I had something in common: autism. I wasn’t surprised, though, because he showed some familiar traits. He preferred spending time with me, the adult, rather than kids his own age. I was the same way at his age. If I could find an adult who would give me the time of day, I’d stick to them like glue.
In the course of thirty minutes, I got a synopsis of his life story. He would be seven come June 6th. He had an older brother whose height he described as being almost as high as the ceiling. I learned he was afraid of lightning and mosquitoes. He repeated that multiple times. He’d jump whenever he saw a mosquito. Well, either it was his imagination or my eyesight because I didn’t see one flying around.
I don’t know if he’ll remember our walk together. I doubt it, but then again, I have childhood memories of folks who probably thought I’d have no memory of them. I do know I’ll not soon forget the boy who feared a lightning strike and a mosquito bite.