Again it was a soggy, rainy, dark morning. Again I was outside the school on supervision before the entry bell. Again I wondered why the weather was so crappy every time it was MY turn to be out there – and then I remembered that I live in Vancouver, where it does rain during the winter, so the law of averages says that of course it will rain a lot of the time ANYBODY is outside during the winter.
I was trudging around the playground, dodging kids who didn’t seem to notice how wet it was. Some kids didn’t even have winter coats on, just t-shirts. Obviously, those kids’ moms didn’t see what they were wearing before those kids left for school that morning.
One kid was flicking a dripping wet scarf at the other kids. Nobody seemed upset at this – yet. I decided that I had to intervene before things turned bad. I told the kid to quit with the scarf-flicking. (Yeah, I’m that authoritative.)
He didn’t even look at me, but he did stop. He then proceeded to drag the scarf through the mud, all the while telling me that it wasn’t even his scarf, that he just found it on the playground.
I suggested that maybe the scarf actually belonged to someone who had lost it. And that maybe that someone would prefer to get it back without all the mud.
The kid simply tossed the scarf on the ground and ran off, followed by a bunch of other kids. I sighed and bent to pick the scarf up, intending to take it to the lost and found when the entry bell rang.
As I reached for the scarf, I could feel another group of kids, Grade 5 boys, gather behind me. Yes, I could feel them. When you are a teacher, you very quickly develop this sixth or seventh or whatever sense that tells you that a gang is amassing behind your back and that something is going to happen and it just might be bad – or else funny.
The boys started to giggle and mutter amongst themselves. Once I actually had the scarf in my fingers, I heard one boy say, quietly but quite clearly, “Don’t touch it! It smells like sperm!”
I whipped around, shook my head and rolled my eyes at them all. “No, it doesn’t. It’s just wet and muddy. Really! Trust me on this.”
At the same time, I was thinking, “And how the hell would YOU know what sperm smells like, anyway? You’re only ten years old!”