For the past month, I've been doing some substitute teaching at one of our local Catholic schools, the one which is conveniently just seven blocks from my house. This proximity makes it possible for me to wake up at 6:2o to shower, dress, do my hair and makeup, pack a lunch and then screech into the school's parking lot by 7:29 a.m., while sucking the remains of half a peanut butter sandwich from my teeth and washing them down with a swig of milk. You've gotta love those short commutes.
On Friday, I subbed for the first grade teacher, who was felled by the flu on Thursday afternoon. Since my degree is in secondary ed, spending the day with the little ones is always entertaining; they do things a lot differently in the Land of Knee-High Desks.
There were fourteen children in the class, ten of whom were of Hispanic descent. Now, truly, there isn't an ugly six-year-old in the world, but show me an adorable little bundle named Rosaria or a compact, tough little Jorge, and I'll show you a really cute kid, all big brown eyes and latte-colored skin, sometimes plastered with cartoon character bandages and often missing both front teeth.
A couple of the kids had very endearing Mexican accents, but the most endearing one of all was a dark-eyed Romeo who beckoned his little fingers to me as he was sitting on his knees with his classmates, waiting for our morning restroom-and-drink break to be over (the girls were being very poky.)
I went over to him and said, "Yes, Luis?"
He reached up and took both of my hands as I leaned down in order to hear him better.
"Meeses MeeKeenee," he said softly, "You have a very beeg stowmack, but you are very, very beeyooteeful."
They say drunkards and children always tell the truth. It was 10:30 in the morning in a Catholic elementary school, so I am completely certain that no drink had been taken. And Luis was, after all, only as tall as my waist and missing one front tooth. He definitely qualified for the latter item on that very short list of truth-telling individuals. So I reveled in that hilarious comment all day long, treasuring the moment when I could get home and tell my husband that he had a possible rival for my affections.
Later that afternoon, in front of the mirror in my room, I glanced at my expansive, middle-aged profile, winked at my reflection, and said, "Meeses MeeKeenee, you've still got it, chica."
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