>It was second period this past Tuesday. There’s nothing really redeeming about Tuesday. It’s not the start of a fresh new week like Monday. It doesn’t have the allure of “hump day” Wednesday. It’s just kind of there, like partially moldy cheese-there’s nothing really wrong with it if you can get past the green stuff and scrape off the edges. I was gathering my notes together before the barrage of gangly, strong smelling, chatty teenagers took over my room all abuzz with the excitement of sports commencements. This is the week my football, soccer, volleyball and basketball players along with my cheerleaders have their first games. They run around crazy-like in the hallways, decorating lockers with red and white streamers, painting their faces to show school spirit, baking cookies with players names in them. They come to school in suits either too small or too large for their ever-transforming frames, asking for help to tie their father’s ties; slick with hair-spray, floating on European cologne. Even their smiles are different-some excited to be returning to the game, others petrified.
One of the downfalls of only teaching Juniors this year is that I occasionally miss some of my students from last year who are currently sophomores. I only say occasionally due to the fact that they seldom give me a chance to miss them considering they are in my classroom so often to say hello I forget that they are no longer students of mine. In fact, I had promised one of them that I would swing by his J.V. soccer game later on in the week to watch him in action, since I don’t get the chance anymore in the classroom.
Anyway, back to Tuesday. I had noticed as they all got settled into their seats and reluctantly took out their notebooks that one of the boys who sat in the back was eyeing me in a peculiar fashion. Not uncomfortable, mind you. Just as if he needed to ask me something and wasn’t sure how to word it. He stayed that way throughout the period. Usually having all the answers, he abstained from answering questions and when I called on him it was brief, one or two words at the most. I generally stop the class a few minutes early and tell them to get a jumpstart on homework, but it’s really for me to be able to connect to each of them personally. I made my rounds and finally made my way to the back when I heard his voice.
“Mrs. Shannon? Alex told me that you were going to the J.V. soccer game on Friday to watch him play.”
I answered, that yes, Alex was student of mine last year and I told him that I would come to at least one game of his this year.
The boy in the back puffed up his Varsity soccer jersey, shuffled his feet and with a bit more confidence asked-
“Are you gonna come to my games then, too? To watch me play? I’m captain this year.”
This caused quite an uproar among the classmates. “What, you a footfairy fan Mrs. S? You not gonna come see me in a real American game? Football?” “How ’bout we get you the basketball schedule, will you come to those, too?” “What? Mrs. Shannon? You won’t just go see the boys, will you? Our volleyball team plays Garfield next week….”
I taught pre-school where four year olds clamoured over holding my hand. Sitting next to me for snack time. I thought for sure after my experience in high school last year these kids would sooner egg my car then demand my presence at one of their functions. Needless to say, I appeased the masses Marc Anthony style. I assured them all (who meandered in with smirks and attitudes, laughing in my face and refusing to sit down or hand in their homework just minutes before) that I do not discriminate and will gladly attempt to make one of each of their games. That they are all equally as important to me. That they were all talented and I couldn’t wait to see what they could do. They smiled. Their shoulders relaxed. They breathed. They gave me high fives on the way out. I was stunned.
After class was over I marveled quietly at my desk. It is true. We are all made in His image. We all truly want love, acceptance and support. Even smelly, disrespectful, snotty teenagers. Go figure. So, if you happen to be bored on a Friday afternoon depending on the week, I could gladly use the company of someone who knows anything about football…or soccer…or basketball…or volleyball….or…..