Growing up, every child dreams of being famous. We watch the movies and see pictures of celebrities in their element. I am sure, that on some level, everyone has wanted to have that moment where they are recognized in some random place and have a small frenzy because, they are famous. No, you never did? Just me? Hmmm…. Ok.
Little did I know that the best way to get recognized and have a moment in the spotlight is to become a second grade teacher. In school, it is the same old thing. I am expected to be there and it isn’t a surprise when they see me diddling about the classroom when they saunter along in every morning or after recess. It is a slightly more exciting moment to see teacher in an unexpected area of the school, like the cafeteria (the fact that we eat is a total mind blower to little ones) or leaving the restrooms (yeah, don’t even want to go there.) When they actually see me walk to my car during lunch on rare occasions, they all line up at the fence and watch me like I am a dormant animal at the zoo that has gotten up to move positions, like a polar bear.
I talk about my personal life quite a bit with these kiddies. They know the city that I live in. They know what kind of car that I drive. Most of them have seen my facebook profile (I have a class facebook page.) They know that I have kids (one of them is in my class.) They realize that I do change my clothes and my hairstyle daily…. but somehow they are at an age where seeing me outside of school is beyond the scope of their understanding. How is it that this person that lives a while life inside of one room in their second home, can possibly exist outside of that sphere. It is like a fish out of water.
Case in point, Thursday evening I was left work around 7:30 after having my parent teacher conferences go a little late. Kelton and I (because he had to stay with me the whole time both nights) ran to the grocery store right there for a few minutes to get some things for breakfast the next morning. We were walking down the dairy aisle getting milk and one of my little students turned the corner and caught a glimpse of me. Her eyes because the size of the moon and her jaw dropped to the floor. “Ms. Aspen! You buy MILK?” It was a whole new concept to her. Her mom started to laugh and told her that I was a normal person just like everyone else. My little cutie looked up and said, “But mom, she’s at the store…. buying MILK.” Her mom and I just laughed.
Two years ago, I walked into class after the students had walked in moments before I had. There was an audible buzz in the classroom, yet as I walked in, the chatter stopped immediately. 24 mixed colored pairs of eyes shot to me and they became still as statues. One little girl walked from the middle of the room up to me and with a proud timber in her voice blurted out… “I saw you in the McDonald’s drive through last night! I was in the play land waving at you. You took a bite of your sandwich as you walked away!” The class started at me waiting for the confirmation of this grand sighting. “Yep, I said, I do like hamburgers.” They class erupted in a chorus of oohs and ahhs as in a huge twist of fate, they all like hamburgers as well.
Over the years, I have gotten to be friends with a lot of the parents of my students. I have really enjoyed staying in touch with them. About two weeks ago, a previous student’s mother had mentioned that she was looking for a bracelet that she had lost and couldn’t find a replacement. It was actually a really touching and meaningful interchange between the two of us. I happened to have bought a bracelet just like it a year earlier, but never wore it, so I offered it to her. I drove over to her house one day after school to drop it off. I knocked on the door and my former student (no longer at the school) opened the door. It took him a moment to realize who I was. Yet, I knew the moment that he did as his eyes bugged out of his head. He threw his arms around me and gave me a huge hug. “Ms. Aspen! I’ve missed you! Thank you so much for coming to visit me” Oh my goodness. Such a tear jerking moment. I didn’t have the hear to tell him that I came to give something to his mom, so we chatted for a few minutes just about him and what he has been up to.
I am always off track for Halloween. I don’t mind it at all. I can do without that day of facepaint, costumes and sugar highs. I did however, go to Walgreens on the day before Halloween. It was mid afternoon, but I was in jeans, a hoodie and only mascara (not full make up.) It is guaranteed that on those days you will run into someone that you know, and actually would have liked to make a good impression on. Oh well. I knew it and I ignored that rule of mine. I turned down the aisle to get some bandaids and there she was…. the most stylish child in my class with her porcelain perfect mother. The student saw my son and started chatting. Only after a very long few moments did she realize that the woman standing with Kelton was me, her teacher. She looked at me with a look of intense discernment. Then, her moment of brilliance hit. “Ms. Apsen, I like your costume. Are you going as one of those people that hold the signs on the street corners?” Yep. She thought that I was a vagrant. I love child honesty.
I have a rule in my classroom. If my students go on a fun vacation with their families, I won’t let them go, unless they take me with them. I always find it to be a funny joke.
Two years ago, my kiddos and I went to Disneyland. We were walking into Downtown Disney and decided to visit Disney Buid a Bear. As we walked in, as happenstance would have it, I saw a student. I knew that she was going to be there, but didn’t say anything to her about it beforehand. I think that her seeing me actually scared her as she went pale as she saw me. After a second, her mom saw me and got excited over the coincidental meeting several states away in an extremely crowded location. Finally, after a moment my little student looked up at her mom and said, “Mom, she always said that it was a class rule that if we went on vacation that we had to take her with us, but I didn’t think that she would really come.” That one was classic.
One more big one that to this day still blows my mind. While on that same Disneyland trip, we stayed late one night to see the fireworks. I was trying to wrangle the three kiddos and get them into a position where they could all see the brilliant light display. Just ahead of us was a nice lady with a little girl. She was so sweet and moved forward and helped me get my little ones up on a a bench so that they could see the action that was going on. The fireworks went off and the kiddos were all thrilled beyond belief. As they ended the mom turned to her little girl and said, Happy Birthday to her. After the display ended, I went to thank the mom for her kindness and tell them little girl happy birthday as well. I asked her how old she was and she told me that she was 8. I perked up and said, “Well, you must be in second grade.” She said that she was indeed in second grade. I said, “Well, that is just too cool. I teach second grade.” With her response, I about hit the floor, “I know Ms. Aspen.” WTH was my first though. After a moment of complete shock, the story unfolded that this little family was not only from Utah, but from my little neighborhood and this little girl was in the second grade, in the classroom next to me. WOW! What a teeny tiny world.