The other half of the Troublemint Twins finally made it out to the field for a full-fledged exploring trip, but then just as quickly fell from grace. He had such a glorious day, too.
To be sure, he’s been to the field before. He’s dipped his toes onto the grass to see that it was real turf, so to speak. On that day all he kicked a ball and chased after it. But we didn’t go exploring. Monday was finally his day, so I made sure it was a long, eventful time. With his track record there was no telling when he’d make it back.
My oldest student is bright and perceptive. This is his third year with me. I’m not sure who reads who better- him or me. Sometimes he’s a step ahead of me, and it works just fine. Sometimes it crowds me and I need to remind him to back off and let me be the teacher. He has a natural good nature that takes things in stride. Most importantly, he enjoys kids younger than himself.
When he realized T-2 (so named because he’s the second of the Troublemint Twins to make it to the field) was going along, one look at me told him all he needed to know. He was going to make it special for him, too. He took his nearest-grade compadre and headed off across the expanse.
“Wait here while we go hide behind yonder trees,” they told T-1 and -2 (the other two First Graders were absent.)
They did as they were told.
Thereon began a game of hide and pounce, scramble and climb. T-2 was in ecstasy being treated like one of the “big boys.”
Now, taking on T-1 is no easy task, nor safe, either. The kid is young, but built like a tank. He loves to wrestle and to be thrown to the ground. He doesn’t particularly like to be piled on, but he’ll take a hit, roll, and bounce right back up. He likes to be the “monster” and catch the others. Thing is, he’s slow so he can’t catch the other boys. Once they had him pretty well hornswoggled- or so they thought. All five of them hid under thed bridge on the playground equipment. If he tried to grab one, they were too fast getting out from under. He tried several times to get them, then finally sat down on the ground to think things out. (This kid is sharp! He’s a First Grader reading Little House in the Big Woods all by himself.) Eventually he got up, climbed up on the bridge, and lay down on top. Next thing I knew, all five boys were screaming and running out from underneath. He was raining spit down on them from between the cracks in the planks. Monsters do what monsters do.
Out on the exploring trip we detoured a bit and wandered further into the Pinelake holdings, just to see what was over the hill. Not much, at first. We scampered down the hill and through the woods, past some huge spider webs and an abandoned wheelbarrow. At each turn my oldest student was certain that T-2 didn’t miss a sight, didn’t get left out of any of the fun.
Finally along the road going back to the school we chanced upon a clump of cattails. T-2 was entranced. “I never had a cattail before. Never.” I managed to break off one for each of them. T-2 was lit. All he could talk about that afternoon was his cattail.
Next day T-1 took ill and was sent home. T-2 managed to mind his ways and make it to another trip exploring. At the end his composure blew. A classmate asked him to “stop” wrestling. A moment passed, then a silly smirk formed on T-2’s mouth and a glint shined in his eyes. Ooops! The number of times I’ve seen that just before… yup! There he went! He pushed the boy down.
I asked T-2 if he knew what the word “Stop” meant.
“No, I don’t.”
There ensued a conversation of several minutes, with me trying to elicit from the child some indication that he recognized what “stop” meant. Eventually I used the example of the stoplight, and green for “go.” “Do you know what ‘go’ is?” He denied even that.
Flabbergasted at this kid’s insistence that he be found innocent by reason of ignorance I finally tossed my hands in the air and declared, “Well, that settles it. Any kid who doesn’t know ‘stop’ or ‘go’ can’t be in the First Grade. He needs to go back to Kindergarten. It’s a rule. You have to know these things. I’ll talk to Mrs. Sawyer right away.”
T-2 took a quick look around himself at the field. His eyes grew wide. He paled. He wailed. “Noooo! I can’t do that. Don’t make me do that. Please don’t make me do that. Now I remember. Stop means don’t do it.”
That’s when I knew I had him. Going back to Kindergarten meant a year away from being a kid big enough to go back to the field.
T-2 came back the next day and had four tests. Aced every one of them. A week ago he played through two of the same sort and dived them. Got in trouble after chapel while I was talking to pastor and had my back turned. I thought it was the whole class, but he said “No, it was just me.” I was right proud of him for owning up to the truth, and told him so, even though he still had to suffer consequences for his actions. He said, “OK. I’ll go the field tomorrow.”
He will. And this time we’ll show him how to gully-leap.