I used to think I was smart - street smart that is. I worked in an inner city school with kids who taught me what was what on the streets. I knew which neighborhoods I couldn't drive through at night, I knew where the drug deals went down, and I knew the colors, signs, and handshakes of four different gangs. Nothing surprised me.
I've changed schools now. I'm in the country, and I love it. Our student, Filemon, lives next to the school, and no one has taught his roosters that they only are supposed to crow in the morning. So they cock-a-doodle-do all day long. It's nice background music for my reading class.
Last year we had a guest speaker come to talk to our student body about organic food. I watched as the same kids who couldn't name a state in the USA that started with "A" (they said Africa and Australia) jumped up and down in their seats when the speaker asked them what they could do to make sure their crops were healthy year after year. ("Well, you could try crop rotation," they said.) Hmmmm. Who woulda thought of that?
Another thing that I've noticed: we have numerous boys in our school who wear hunting camouflage. I'm talking pants, jackets, hats...the whole deal...to school! Are they planning on bagging the big one between first and second period? We even have several students named Hunter. And not because it's a popular name, they tell me. Because that's what they are.
Today I grew a couple more brain cells because of my student Bradley. When my first period class entered the room, I noticed they all had gum (who gave out gum in homeroom, you guys?) I dutifully told them to spit it out. They all, obedient gum chewers, walked one by one to the trash can...except Bradley.
"Bradley, I told you to spit out the gum," I warned.
"I don't have gum," he replied.
"Bradley, I see it. It's bright green." I was proud. I had evidence!
"It's not gum," he said.
Okay, I'll bite. "What is it?" I asked.
He was very excited to share. "It's a turkey call." (The entire class nodded.)
Bradley repeated what he had said, only he did it by making a noise that sounded like what I heard the night my cat Fluffy had kittens. I must've looked confused because the remainder of the class all spoke together, "It's a turkey call."
Then he started gobbling. Straight up gobbling as in "Gobble, gobble - it's Thanksgiving."
Finally, I caught on.
"Bradley," I said. "All of the turkeys in those woods out there are going to hear you and come scrambling to get in this room." I thought that would stop him. Not a chance.
"I hope they do!" He jumped up and ran over to the window. "I'll grab one and break its neck and...."
"Whoa, stop there! I can't stand it," I pleaded.
I continued to try to teach, periodically interrupted by a gobble here, a gobble there, a ....
Well, you get it.
At the end of the class, Bradley told me that he was being signed out early. He was going shopping - for more turkey calls.
As he left my room, he turned around and gobbled at me. Another student interpreted.
"He said, 'Mrs. Rigsbee is the best teacher ever!'" Christian said.
In turkeyspeak. Heaven help me.