me, a high school senior, 1969 Play Day
I won the bubble gum bubble blowing contest - a skill my students never suspected I possess
I've been having a case of the late winter blues lately, not getting a whole lot of art I like accomplished, bogging down in reading I need to finish for my neighborhood reading group, and missing seeing folks in general. Then yesterday my friend, the forensics coach from the rival high school across town, called me to judge for her. I liked coaching forensics (competitive public speaking, not dead folks) before I hung up my gradebook program, and getting out of the house seemed like a Very Good Thing, so I said yes.
I was a nervous, because for me being retired means I can take all morning to drink half decaf coffee, read, and do my hair or a load of laundry. One or the other, not both. In my teaching life I was up early, often at school at 7:00 a.m. to prepare for my classes or to hear kids rehearse their speeches. I've slowed down considerably - would I be able to keep up? These speech contests are fast and furious, full of nervous kids and harried coaches, and paperwork that has to be completed accurately and quickly. When I did this full time I was always stoked with caffeine. I hadn't judged in almost a year. Would I remember all the fine points? Would my comments be helpful to the students and their coaches? I dusted off my stopwatch and found two pens, just in case one failed mid-critique. I was on my way.
It turned out fine, better than fine. I liked seeing coaches I knew, and was glad all I had to worry about was judging, not about tearful students, late buses, or icy roads. I was tickled to judge a boy who I had in class as a freshman my last year of teaching. A senior now, he is currently about six and a half feet in height, and greeted me with a grin. I had been his favorite teacher, he said, even though I gave him a low grade in English that year. It doesn't take much I guess, because that comment made my day, and I don't think he said it because I was about to judge his performance (a demonstration of some funky dancing). He thanked me later, and I went home wearing a smile. And I didn't have to get up early this morning.