The new life surrounding us

After weeks of being out of town Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I managed to put in a day of subbing at Woodland Heights last Friday. The kids welcomed me with open arms… literally.

I took part of my lunch break helping children open packets for their sandwiches, opening fruit cups, getting extra straws, resolving disputes… the usual drill. “Mr. Robinson!! I know you!!” Most know the rules; I had to go to them for their hugs and high-fives. As sometimes happens, a few forgot and ran over to me.

As usual I was asked how old I am (70), what’s in your ears (my new ears), I saw you in the newspaper (yep!), were you in Mrs. (name)’s class (yep!), do you remember me (yep!), what is my name (sorry sweety, I don’t do good with names but I remember you) and, oh yes, an historic first: “Mr. Robinson, are you going to have a baby?”

I remember him from kindergarten two years ago. Obviously I’ve put on a few pounds (you know where) since then.

“No buddy, I’m not going to have a baby.” He grinned. He knew guys don’t have babies. I grinned back and gave him a high-five. What else could I do?

In a recent visit to South School, I was warmed by the young ones, no longer little and seated in their classrooms; they saw me, whispered Mr. Robinson and waved. I recognized a few from East, and even Woodland. Good grief, I’m old.

“I’m not trying to be mean or discourteous, but why do you care?”

That was a reasonable question from one of my Edison Communications/Public Speaking students the previous day. She wanted to know why I was opposed to legalizing social marijuana… why did I care? It was my sample opinion speech and my opinion was social marijuana should not be legalized. We already have legal ways to destroy the family (alcohol, for instance). Why would we want to add another?

I’ve often told the class it was their turn to make the decisions that will impact their future. They are the ones who will have to live with them; I won’t. So the student was rightfully curious about why I would care.

“Because of my kids… and my grandkids. I care about you and your kids. You are the next generation. You’ll be setting the standards for future generations,” I said. I believe she understood; not sure she changed her mind.

Each class makes a list of topics in which they are interested… typically social or legal opinions: gay marriage, capital punishment, school uniforms, and yes, legalizing marijuana and more. You get the picture.

These are their lists. Not mine. Then the classes are polled so they can see the breakout of opinions. Whether they realize it or not, they’re getting a lesson in diversity, one of Edison’s Core Values. Students are asked to be forthright in their views and are assured those views will be respected.

It is from this list students choose some of their speaking topics. My “sample” speeches, where possible, are also from their list. Often it’s easy to adapt some of my “little ones” stories to their lists, so my comment about the next generations was not new territory for them.

This was a week to be thankful. For some it was easy; for others not so much. Severe challenges sometimes hamper the joys of the season. Our family suffered a loss that will be painful for years to come. Cancer is a brutal, hideous disease and my younger sister, Melinda, lost her battle November 21 after fighting it for nearly two years.

My thanks is that her suffering is over. I’m grateful for a loving family and good friends; and I have the privilege of working with terrific young people… of being part of the new life surrounding us.

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