I’ll Leave the Olive, Thank You.

Today I gave one of my students, Em, the first black olive she had ever eaten. She looked at it skeptically, poked it with her finger, and queried, “What is this?” She noticed her friends eating them off the tips of their fingers. She tried hers on for size and beamed delightedly when it fit. One of her friends urged, “Taste it!” Em’s frown returned. “Just a little taste,” she said, then delicately nipped the tiniest bite off the olive.

Immediately her tongue popped back out of her mouth with the smudge of olive on it. The sight was met by a chorus of “Ewww!” from the other girls at the table. The tongue and the olive disappeared back inside Em’s mouth. Her face made the most marvelous contortions as she choked down that speck of olive.

Finally, she opened her eyes and looked at the olive still on the end of her finger. Slowly, she raised it to her lips. I said, “Em, did you like that olive?” She replied, very politely, “I found it a bit unusual.” Again she moved the olive toward her mouth. I said, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.”

Em said, “That wouldn’t be polite. I have to eat it.” I responded, “No, Em, you don’t. I gave it to you and I say if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it. My feelings won’t be hurt.”

Em stared at me wide-eyed. She looked at the olive. She looked at me. “Really?” She asked. I pointed at the garbage can. “Throw the olive away,” I ordered.

Em effusively exclaimed, “Oh thank you! That really is nasty, you know!” She tossed the olive and scrubbed her tongue with the cuff of her shirt. “How can you people eat those things?” she demanded. We just wiggled our olive covered fingers and giggled.

Teaching Rulz

Today was the first day of Sunday School. Only one kid showed up.  I am a professional teacher so this should have been a piece of cake, but perhaps my skills are a little rusty.   Marcus, my team teacher and I, decided to go ahead with the getting acquainted activity and our classroom rules.  For our activity we all took a piece of paper (yes, even Marcus and I) and drew a picture of ourselves.  We put our names beside our picture.  All around the picture we were supposed to put things we liked or whatever was important to us.   This way we could see from our pictures what things we have in common (we all like ice cream) and how we’re different (I don’t watch TV, Marcus has a pet, and Darren has 3 brothers).

Darren had some trouble thinking of anything besides his brothers to put on his paper.  I didn’t want to tell him what to write, so I was prompting him think of the word “friends”.  I said, “So what do you call the people you play with?”  Darren frowned while he thought and then pointed at the picture already on his paper.  “Brothers,” he said.  I looked over at Marcus and we just sort of nodded our heads at each other.  It did make sense.

~*~

At another point during the hour and fifteen minutes, I said to Darren, “So, I have three number one rules in my classroom.  You think you can handle three number one rules?”

Darren shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah sure.”  Nine year-olds are cool like that.  Marcus, though, was a little perplexed.  “Three number one rules?” He questioned.

Darren answered before I could.  He matter-of-factly said, “They all must be pretty important.”

I nodded my head at Marcus.  “They are,” I said.  “My first number one rule is, don’t step on the little kids.  They stick to your shoes and you’ll drag them in on the carpet.”  We all looked at the tile floor.  “Okay,” I said, “We don’t have any carpet, but they’d still make the floor really sticky.”

Darren held up his right hand and said, “I promise not to step on any little kids” (too funny since he’s maybe 45 inches tall).

I said, “Good.  That’s important.  My next number one rule is, keep all of your blood on the inside.  It was put there for a reason and you need to keep it there.”

Darren said, “I can do that.”

I pointed at a big scab on his elbow.  “I don’t know,” I said.  “It looks to me like you’ve had some trouble with that.”

“Not me!”  Darren answered.  “That was my scooter!”

Marcus and I looked at each other and tried not to laugh.

I straightened my face as best I could and said very seriously, “Now I know Uncle Marcus thinks it’s kind of weird to have three number one rules, but I can tell he approves of the first two and I know he is going to like this last one.  My third number one rule is, don’t throw up on the teacher.”

Marcus said, “Oh I do like that rule!  I think it’s my favorite!”

I said, “If you ever feel sick and you have to throw up, run for the waste basket.  You can try to run to the bathroom if you want to.  Once you get outside (all our hallways are outdoors) you can always throw up in the grass.  Just don’t throw up on the teachers.”

Marcus interrupted, “Of course, you could probably throw up on one of your friends if you really wanted to.  Just try to avoid the grownups.”

Darren frowned at Marcus and said, “I don’t think my friends would like that,” at the same time I said, “Uncle Marcus, you’re not helping!”

As we said good bye, I couldn’t help but wonder what Darren is going to tell his family he learned today.