Cow licked brown headed little boy, so obstinate that we would frequently have to collect him out of grandfather’s car in the morning for that long trek down the first grade wing to my kindergarten room. So full of himself he often appeared to be busting out of his wrinkled shirt, and yet still wearing Velcro sneakers. Grandpa was a robust country boy, sporting his weathered blue jean overalls and tattered plaid shirts as if he just left feeding the chickens to drive Joey to school, now in his twilight years finds himself the guardian of his grandson.
Joey was a trip.
Missing one of his front teeth, prone to finding himself in time-out and often the first to give condolences to his peers who found themselves warming up the corner with him. He had a lot to say. Mostly “I don’t want to” or “I don’t like that”, and his favorite, “is my five minutes up yet?”
And yet, he was incredibly endearing.
But one day, Joey comes down the hallway strutting his stuff a whole three classrooms ahead of dear Grandpa. Yup, something was up, and apparently it was Joey. He had a more than usual take-charge attitude which manifested itself in his new found macho-bowed-legged swagger. I was in fer’ it. It was in the middle of circle time, that I noticed, Joey no longer had on his Velcro sneakers, but cowboy boots. Yup, Hoss had decided to join us in class today. But by recess, Hoss was replaced with the Rifleman, and the screaming and pleading children “Stop it Joey, I don’t want to play!” rang out among the swings and slides.
A warning was issued. “If you throw another child on the ground and “arrest them” I am taking your boots!” Well, you know, the Rifleman doesn’t take too kindly to threats.
But there was a new sheriff in town. When arriving back in the room, I sat the child up on the table, and with one quick thrust both boots were immediatley removed. And within the hour Joey had returned to me.
Amazing. I hear so many of my teachers complain about feeling disrespected by parents, principals and children. Only five years old, and Joey already knew what some of us have chosen to forget in life. We can command Rifleman Respect when we live up to our attire. Other's perceptions of us will be formed by whether or not we are strutting our stuff in flip-flops or cowboy boots.