Grade 6 and Me

It’s been a long time since I’ve had kids in my life.  I went on short term disability in November, 2013 to care for my dear wife Jody.  That was it.  Now I’m retired.

On Monday, I received word from the Ontario Provincial Police that my fingerprints were fine.  I had passed the criminal check.  So on to volunteering at an elementary school near Belmont.

On Tuesday afternoon, I started with Grade 6’s, led by a lovely teacher whom I’ll call Nicole.  “Would you like to read to the students?”  Of course.

The class was devouring Matilda, a book by Roald Dahl.  It’s the story of a remarkable 5-year-old girl, gifted in math, literature and tipping over water glasses with her mind.  Matilda becomes fast friends with her teacher, Miss Honey, and fast enemies with the school principal, Miss Trunchbull.  Here’s a taste of what Matilda had to overcome:

“You are a vile, repulsive, repellent, malicious little brute!” the Trunchbull was shouting.  “You are not fit to be in this school!  You ought to be behind bars, that’s where you ought to be!  I shall have you drummed out of this establishment in utter disgrace!”

Head down into the words, I launched myself into the roles, having entered the story midway.  I love reading out loud and I gave the Trunchbull all the nastiness I could muster.  Never once did I look up to see how the kids were reacting but I sensed they were having a grand old time.  Later Nicole told me so.

What an opportunity I have, to influence children once more.  May I help them see the gifts that they are.  Matilda had almost magical powers, probably beyond anything that the Grade 6 kids, Nicole or I can bring forth.  But every one of us has our own way of moving others, and may we discover that unique richness in each other’s company.

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