Today I was bombarded by a million little kids. Actually, just five, and they’re not that little. I’m the shortest of them all. They presented me with some goodies from the trip they went on last week to Paraty, each gift wrapped in assorted colorful bags. I was dumbfounded that they thought of me, their teacher, while they were living it up altogether among the islands and the sun and the cobble stone streets of the Centro Historico of the little town, so when they not only showed up at my door, together like a pack of hyperactive monkeys, they took me by surprise when they handed me over the sack of treasures.
Inside were the following:
- a mug that says “PARA UMA SUPER PROFESSORA Paraty–RJ–Brasil”
- a fake earring in the shape of a sword that looks like it’s stabbing me through my ear
- a bag of pacoquinha
- an orange witch
Let me explain about the witch. I’d like to think they gave me that because they like me, not because they think I am one, but I think it depends on the day. The witch is two inches tall, has bright orange hair, and is wearing orange felt clothes. She is cheerful and smiling, with rosy cheeks, and her name is Taurina. Taurina is the “witch” representation of the Taurus sign, because that’s what I am through and through. She comes with a little note that says what she symbolizes. The note says that Taurina follows through with her decisions, she is known for companionship and patience, that her favorite color is orange and her favorite day of the week is Friday. When I looked confused upon opening it, one of my girls said, “Well, at least you’re taller than she is,” and I am indeed. A whopping five feet taller. She now sits on my desk and today was the inspiration for a story that a third grader wrote after school during our tutoring session. (If you’re curious, the story was about a witch named Taurina who wanted to take English classes with me at our school.)
Another student, one of my 7th graders, presented me today with a gift she’s been waiting to give me for months. This is the girl who went to my old summer camp in Maine this past summer, Camp Arcadia. While she was there, she thought of me and brought me back a bumper sticker that says “I (heart) Camp Arcadia” and told me she’d ordered me a song book, too, but that it had gotten stuck in the mail. It must have arrived over the weekend, because this morning she gave it to me all wrapped up nicely in a pretty green bag. In the book she’d placed the map she was given on her first day of school and some memorabilia from the annual camp’s birthday party. Her mom told me a month or so ago that she’d been so eager for the song book to arrive because it was such an important part of camp and that it was such a neat experience that the two of us shared. So all day long, I’ve had great memories and great songs floating through in my mind.
And to top it all off, some indisputable words from another 7th grader:
She’d asked me why I didn’t have a daughter. I laughed and told her it was because I had thirty-one 7th graders to take care of. How could I possibly have time for a daughter? She was silent for just a second, and I pulled out an equation for her to mull over.
“Thirty-one humans is the equivalent of one daughter,” I told her.
And just as quickly as those words left my mouth, my student shook her head rather vigorously in protest. “No, no, no,” she corrected me. “We are not human.”
And there you have it. Truer words have ne’er been spoken.