First graders are remarkable. I caught one of ‘em tearing out of a classroom and running down the hall at warp speed just to get to the playground. I stopped him and said, “Come with me, young man. We are going to my room and I am going to write you a ticket.” He acted innocent, but he knew what he did because as soon as we got to my room he said, “I was running because some kid was chasing me.”
“No one was chasing you. I was there and there was no one behind you.’
“I’m new to this school and I didn’t know it was against the rules.”
“This is the month of May. You have had almost a year to learn this rule. That’s no excuse.”
“Well, I have this head injury.” He then pointed to a spot over his right eye near the hairline. “I have a hole in my head. It’s right here. Or it was but now it’s gone.”
This kid was gettin’ to me. This last remark deserved an award for comic relief and over-the-edge gall.
“I think your brain is an excellent brain. There is no damage to your brain.”
I knew I had him. That’ll shut him up. Sure enough, I started writing the ticket and he stood there watching. I asked him his name and his teacher’s name, filled out the ticket, handed it to him, and he said, “This sure is a lovely room. I like this classroom.”
That was when the scales o’ justice started tipping the other way. Suddenly, I saw a clever, intelligent, sophisticated boy needing to be rewarded for his charm and his silver tongue.
“You’re Mr. R.?
“Yes I am.”
“I have heard a lot of good things about you.”
(More serious tipping of the scales) “Oh really?”
“Yeah. All the kids say you’re cool. And this is a cool room.”
(I’m rippin’ that ticket up) “Thanks. It’s just a regular room.”
“No, this is a cool room.”
“Are you gonna give me the ticket?”
I felt so cruel and horrible and mean and strict, but I stuck to my guns. I remembered the highballin’ speed he had achieved, and I did the ogre thing. “Yes. (a long pause as I reconsidered my decision) Don’t run in the halls anymore.”
“Thank you, Mr. R.”
I watched him go out the door thinking I just hated to give him that ticket. Somebody should reward hutzpah and charm like that. I hope I didn’t discourage him. What a future he has.