Friday, April 27, 2012

The Substitute Diaries

Grams has been extremely busy substitute teaching this semester. I've been working mostly at a primary school that has Pre-K through 3rd Grade. I really have come to love substitute teaching. I get the benefit of a teacher who puts together the lesson plan and spells it out in detail for me. I also get hugs and smiles from dozens and dozens of students who call me "Mrs. V" and are almost always happy to see me.

It's so much better than nonprofit fundraising and special event planning ever was. No one asks me how many contacts I made today or how much money I raised today. I don't have to worry about goals and cultivating new givers.

Working with kids who are between four and nine years old can be a lot of fun, but it does have a few drawbacks. One of those drawbacks became painfully clear this morning when I took over a classroom full of kindergarten students.

Kindergarten rug (photo credit)
Each of the kindergarten classrooms has a big colorful rug with squares. Each student is assigned to sit on a specific square. It's their spot all year long. "Carpet time" is used for reading, calendar review, group activities like counting and reciting, reviewing the weather, and a variety of other activities. Each classroom handles it a little bit differently and kindergartners are quick to point out if the substitute deviates from their standard procedure in any little way.

Yesterday all our kindergartners went to the Texas State Aquarium on a field trip. So, at the end of circle time this morning I took a few minutes to ask them about what they had seen and how much they enjoyed their field trip. We were a few minutes ahead of schedule so I allowed a little time for discussion between myself and the kids. During that discussion, one of the kids told me that I reminded him of another substitute that they had earlier this week. Since I had been in the classroom across the hall, I knew exactly who he was talking about. I don't think we look at all alike. For one thing she's completely white-haired and I keep my hair colored. I'm fanatical about it and you will rarely even see my grey roots. I followed up by asking what he thought was the same about us. He answered "You're both really old." I sort of laughed and explained that ladies don't really like to be called old and it's not a very nice thing to say.
Grams in April 2012.

Then a beautiful little girl on the front row said "That's right. You should not say she's old. You should say she's elderly."

I swear, this five year old girl called me "elderly." Seriously?! Elderly?! And I thought my hair coloring was doing the trick.

I just let it go. Although I have had a very good laugh about it several times today. Maybe laughing will keep me from crying.

And, in case you're wondering ... I'll be 58 in June. Old yes, but elderly. I think not! I've added a recent photo so you can judge for yourself.


  1. Oh how funny!! I'm sure that you're gorgeous!! :)

  2. That is hilarious! My Kindergartener thinks I'm old too - and I'm 39 so I wouldn't take it too hard!

  3. My Kindergartener thinks I'm old too - and I'm 39. I think everyone over 15 is old to them! :) You look great!

  4. This post is hilarious! You look great, but to a 5 year old.... well, it's all relative.

  5. This post is hilarious! You look great, but to a 5 year old.... well, it's all relative.

  6. Hilarious! You don't look old to me, but I'm not 5. It's all relative.

  7. So funny! Kids will indeed say the darnedest things. And I guess she should be congratulated on using a more advanced word (elderly) instead of "old."

    You look beautiful! Love the hair color.

  8. You are NOT elderly or even close and you look fabulous! You have to love kindergartners -- even Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn't handle them! Keep up the good works. We need more good teachers.