The students returned a few days ago and they appeared to be excited. To me, this is a good sign for, what I hear will be a fast and sometimes challenging, Spring Term.
As is customary, we welcome the kids back and have to do “Junk on the Bunk.” “Junk on the Bunk” is a precautionary measure to inspect their luggage and ensure that they didn’t bring back any paraphernalia (candy, soda, chips…) after their two week hiatus. Also, it is a way to safeguard their valuables so that they don’t get misplaced or damaged during this spring season.
While doing this interrogation, I encountered a student, Sean, who, by the way, is a very well behaved and honest kid, with five bite size Hershey bars. I was inclined to take them away but I decided to strike a deal with him because he wasn’t trying to be misleading; as some kids tend to do. So, I said, “If you can get rid of the evidence in five minutes, then I will pretend like I didn’t see a thing.” He, happily, accepted and in that short window of opportunity, he disposed of his stash by ravaging three for himself and sharing two with his housemates.
One of these accomplices was also caught with contraband; a grape flavored Blow Pop! When offered the same ultimatum, he took his sweet time to contemplate. Darren decided to decline this motion. He realized that he couldn’t really enjoy it in that amount of time. So now it is in his valuables box, along with his PSP (Playstation Personal, I think…), waiting to be devoured at the end of school; an inspiring example of delaying gratification, don’t you think?
Oh, but we’re not done with little Darren just yet!
While unpacking, it was brought to his and his roommates attention how clean their room was; they usually leave it in shambles. I said to them, “If you can keep your room looking like this for the whole term, I will get you anything!”
Please allow me to go on an introspective tangent. Darren and his roommates are a mixture of fourth and fifth graders. What do you think his wager will be after hearing the word, “anything?” What would you request? I mean, this is a child with unimaginable imagination, it could really be ANYTHING right?
Darren looks at me with spirited eyes that cause me to feel like he is going to make me eat my words like Sean ate that chocolate… He gazed at me with conviction and an intimidating smile and stated these words, “Sour…Patch… Kids… Gum!” The look on his face was so victorious and it could be felt in the air how pleased he was of his decision.
A goulash of confusion, relief and elation took over, all at once. Here I was, ready to say that I can’t afford a Porsche and he tells me, “Sour Patch Kids Gum.” He wanted a future snack, a year 2000 snack! I quickly shook on the deal, and that was that. They had motivation to keep their room clean and I felt bliss because I have the opportunity to experience this type of feeling daily.
But wait, there’s more!
Today, Darren stopped me on the stairs and said, “Dion, I gotta talk to you. I’ll keep my room clean, but I would like to change the deal.” I took a deep breath and waited for some extravagant replacement. “Instead of a pack of Sour Patch Kids Gum… I want TWO!”
All that I could do was smile and shake my head. I looked at him with astonishment. I politely obliged and put my arm around his shoulder, laughing. When we went our separate ways, we both looked back at each other and smiled. I was ecstatic just to be able to know this superstar. And, I like to imagine that he was thinking, “Just like stealing candy from a teacher.”