Cheerleader Dinosaur Love

You never imagined the words “kindergarten” and “teacher” would attach themselves to your name, become a part of your identity, appear on your resume beside the unexpected year of 2010.  But you wake up one morning in Korea, draw eyeliner whiskers on your cheeks, and walk into a classroom full of pirates, vampires, and a six-year old cheerleader called Sunny.

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Who sits beside a dinosaur called Thomas.

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You’re a kindergarten teacher.  You hear a voice rising from your throat each day that says things like “Who can sit nicely?”, “Be, be QUIET!” and “hands in lap,” over and over again, above the sound of feet tapping and pencils dropping and fingers drumming pretend piano keys on wooden desks.  You’ve served pasta in Victoria.  You’ve sold real estate in Edmonton.  You’ve poured 5 a.m. cocktails in Greece and scrubbed glass-bottom boats in Israel.  You think about the future and another year of teaching.  You think about the year after that, about your life and the things that still remain.  Sunny clutches your hand in the Halloween parade and Thomas jumps on your back, his dinosaur arms circling your neck as you cross the Busan street, cat ears pointing to the sun, knowing that teacher, too, is a temporary title, a two-year moment infused with the kind of love that children exude, unfettered by past griefs, open and awake to the new afternoon, where everything possible exists and will lie waiting. 

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First (love) Triangle

My first crush struck in the fourth grade, in Miss Vanderee’s class, on a boy called Steven Costa.  He wasn’t the smartest or the funniest or the most charismatic; I think his part in the class play consisted of doling out props to the lead roles.  But he had dark hair and dark eyes and exuded a quiet sort of energy, in that intriguing makes-you-wonder-what-goes-on-in-his-head kind of way.  

My friend Karley Shraeder liked him too.  Neither of us ever confessed our feelings to the boy, but spent many recess breaks gazing at him from a distance on the field behind the school.  Back then it was okay for two girlfriends to daydream about the same boy.  When your age is still a single digit, stakes of the heart just aren’t as high.

So it is in Cornell Class, where among the flashcards and eraser bits, phonics lessons and lunchtime chopsticks, a triangle has formed.

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Some of you may remember Little Love–an April post in which I mentioned Julia’s bold story-time move, where she suddenly and quite seemlessly slid her hand around Eric’s during story time.

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For a while, the romance appeared to progress, at least for Julia.  She doodled hearts on little pieces of paper, then folded and stored them in a pocket in her backpack.  She started sporting pigtails instead of her standard lone ponytail. During phonics she grew distracted, and when it was time to line up for bathroom break, she’d slip into the space beside Eric and tuck her arm into his. 

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Then Lucy came along.

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And the girls realized they shared a common interest…

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                                                          in Eric. 

                             Which, luckily, has only brought them closer.

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Sometimes he gets a little overwhelmed by the attention…

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and just wants to hang out with the guys.

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After all, decisions are tough.

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             At least for now, it doesn’t look as though anyone has to choose.

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If only it could always be this simple.