Monday, February 23, 2009


I just came from a pizza party with 25 fourth graders. Yeah! You know, I thought I would be all wigged out and anxious afterwards, but I had a really good time. A little background: several fourth-grade classrooms in the local school district are competing for new playground equipment for their respective schools by participating in a contest, one section of which calls for making a video about environmental sustainability. A teacher representing one of the classes at my wife's school asked me to edit their video for them, which I gladly did. They won the video portion of the contest, the prize for which was a pizza party. And they invited me, which was not necessary but super nice of them to do. So I sat there with a room full of fourth graders, all of us eating pizza, telling stories, and laughing our heads off. I thought back to when I was in elementary school. I was teased mercilessly because of my size. Kids could be really mean and hurtful. Thirty-something years later, I'm still a big ol' boy. And I get pointed at and laughed at—but now by adults. I think it's part of human nature to stare at the unusual. Then, too, some folks "just ain't got no manners" as my grandfather would have said. But these kids accepted me without question or hesitation. I'm grateful to them in ways they may never understand. When it was time to go, they all thanked me again for "making their video". Some of them actually came over and hugged me. Too sweet. They all call me by name now, and I look forward to it each time I go to the school. There's something familiar and comforting about hearing "Hi Alan!!" from the playground when I walk across the parking lot. I love being able to smile and wave and call back to my new friends.