I was heading to the photocopy room after school. The kids had just been dismissed for the day, so many were still milling all over the hallways, making their way outside. Some were heading to the library. Some were going to the gym for some team practice or another.
I dodged lots of little bodies on my route, because the photocopy room is, naturally, almost on the other side of the school from my classroom. I don’t think it has ever mattered where my classroom is, the photocopier is always on the other side of the school for me.
Two nine-year-old boys were stopped stock-still in the middle of the main hallway, engrossed in a very serious conversation, it looked like. I guess they hadn’t yet clued in to the fact that when stopping in a main hallway, it is expected – no, required! – that you move to the side. But their conversation appeared far too all-engrossing for them to notice their surroundings.
I moved to go around them. They looked up at me and one boy solicited my opinion on the grave matter of their discussion.
“Madame,” he began. “Do you see anything on my cheek here?” (He was speaking to me in French, thus the “madame”.)
I looked. “Not really,” I replied slowly, unsure of what was actually going on.
The other boy piped up. “Madame, look at his cheek! Do you see that little white spot?”
I looked again. Yes, there it was, a tiny white spot. “Yes, I see it now.”
The first boy looked worried and touched the spot.
The other boy nodded knowingly. “He has a whitehead. I know all about them. He’ll have to go to an esthetician, won’t he?”
“Um.” I stalled for time, thinking frantically. “Well, not necessarily. Sometimes they go away by themselves. I wouldn’t worry about it. They’re not really serious.”
The boy with the whitehead kept touching it, but he looked a little more relieved. The two boys resumed walking down the hallway, still discussing whiteheads and general skin care.
A conversation on skin care between two nine-year-old boys. Now that’s something you don’t hear every day, is it?