I don’t like it when you’re grumpy

“Hi Mr. Robinson.” He was sitting outside the nurse’s office. “Hey, buddy. Don’t feel good?” He shook his head, then “I really like it when you substitute as long as you aren’t grumpy.” He’s not the only one… just a couple days earlier… “Hi sweety… why are you here?” She showed me the scrape on her ankle. “I came to get an ice pack,” she said. “It makes it feel better.”

I told her the nurse will make it feel better then started to walk away when she said “Mr. Robinson?” I turned around. “Yes, sweety?” “Mr. Robinson, I really like it when you are in our class. But I don’t like it when you’re grumpy.”

I grinned. “Do you know how you can keep me from being grumpy?” She nodded her head; concentrating seriously (or was she still thinking about her hurt ankle? Sometimes I can’t tell.). “We don’t talk when you are talking?” I nodded. “And…” She thought for a minute. “We do our work?” I grinned again – two out of four or five is pretty good, especially with a hurt ankle – and held up my hand for a high five. She grinned – ankle forgotten – and gave it a good slap with hers.

Two weeks ago I was thinking I needed a new “gimmick” to maintain control of my classes. Turns out nearly all of them remembered quite well when I got grumpy. They didn’t like it. For some reason, however, they simply weren’t ready to do their part on those days. Maybe the next time.

I hear a lot of “When you come to my class are you going to be grumpy?” and “Please don’t be grumpy” and more. I haven’t been in the classes of some of these students… I’d say that proves the classic “Woodland Grapevine” is alive and well.

By the way… with very few exceptions all of my students are either “buddy” or “sweety.” I have a tough enough time remembering my own name much less those of 18 or 20 kids that I only see for a day, or a half day.

Sometimes a child will say to me, “Mr. Robinson. I know your name, do you know mine?” A little embarrassed, I have to admit I know them (I’m great with faces) but I don’t know their names. I don’t like it that way but long ago I had to accept the reality.

On Tuesday it was a completely different world… my first graders couldn’t have been better. A substitute teacher’s dream. They got their work done and had fun doing it. The old man didn’t have to get grumpy once! In fact, I was so delighted I almost forgot some of the things I was supposed to have them get done.

I’ve been on the Woodland campus several times in the past month, especially in the last couple of weeks. Kids sometimes leave their lines in the hallway to give me a hug or to get a high five. Several of the kids – mostly boys – have made it a game to see if they can take my hand off. Every once in a while they come close.

This, however, makes me nervous… they aren’t supposed to leave their lines. I no sooner tell one or two to get back where they belong when one or two more want to ‘copy’ what their classmates did. The teacher always smiles… not sure if it’s a real smile or one of those ‘please move on and get out of my hair’ smiles. Regardless they’ve been very nice about it, and I rush to my destination as quickly as possible.

In case you’re wondering… yes, I’ve seen Callie Z several times. And no, she still doesn’t like me.

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