Those of us who spend all of our time in adulthood sometimes forget how much fun magic can be. Mine came totally without warning and now that I have experienced it, I can begin orchestrating the next event.
The setting was fourth grade. While I normally avoid grades beyond third, it occurred to me that it was a good way to begin spring break. At this point I have no doubt about revisiting fourth.
Not surprisingly, my new school district presented me with a collection of twenty-seven courteous, sweet, intelligent young people. They offered help, direction and a gratifying amount of appreciation.
Here’s where the magic began. As usual, I brought my Magic Substitute Bag that is filled with candy, stickers and pencils. The first student who saw me remove a bag of pencils timidly requested one. It was all over.
One by one, they presented themselves at my desk. How could I give one pencil to a child and say no to twenty-six others? Fortunately, I had enough reserves. Giving out pencils and a few pens was not the magic. It was the behavior that followed.
You’re the greatest teacher I’ve ever had.
You’re the greatest substitute I’ve ever had.
Can you be our regular teacher?
Can you always be our substitute?
Why did you do this for us?
For the rest of the day, I observed twenty-seven writers closely guarding the pens and pencils that had just appeared out of nowhere. We are so accustomed to having to earn something or beg for something or trade for something. Is it so strange to be given a gift simply because I could give it?
It was a $5 investment for fifty mechanical pencils. There’s no doubt that I’ve spent a great deal more on quite a bit less, in terms of creating happiness for anyone including me. In this case, the good feelings were all throughout the room, with punctuation marks in lead and ink. Shalom.