First Graders Cure Depression*

Sometimes you find remedies for ailments in the most unexpected places.

Michelle’s legs were spread eagle 180 degrees while she sat with an easy-read book on the floor.  “Are you a gymnast?” I asked.  Her tiny little voice answered, “Yes, how do you know?”

Robert read to me while we sat in the school hallway just outside his classroom.  Ever since 1960, Sam I Am still doesn’t like Green Eggs and Ham!  Syllable by syllable, Robert worked hard to keep pace with the tongue-tying rhymes.  “Do you know I have head lice?” he asked.  Whaaaaaaaaaat?  This sentence wasn’t on the page.  Calmly, I responded, “The End.”  Suddenly itching all over, I escorted him back into the classroom and discussed the matter with his teacher.

I led a treasure-chest board game involving matching prefixes to word endings.  In group rotation, group three, comprised of five students, the conversation among the children drifted to religion.  Lord Have Mercy!  “God is in the sky.”  “No he isn’t.  God is Jesus.”  “God isn’t a person, silly.”  “You know there’s a devil.”  A secular debate was underway.

I got invited to Mitchell’s 7th birthday party.  But due to the last minute notification – he blurted it out from the lunch line, I had a schedule conflict.  Mitchell was a spelling wizard.  He could spell anything, and I do mean a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Sassy Susie wore chic eyeglasses.  Alternating between purple passion and perky pink.  Then none.  I inquired why they were missing.  Ticked off, she responded, “They were expensive, $200 for two pairs at Eyeglass Superstore.  I broke them both.  My mom says next time she’s going to get me army eyeglasses.”

There’s a famous book called Tuesdays With Morrie.  I think I should write one, Mondays With Mrs. Mofair.  My last day of one-hour weekly volunteering for her first-grade class at a local elementary school was yesterday.  Most people dread Mondays, back-to-the-grind day.  I have loved them.  If I was feeling blue or stressed before 9:45 am, I was happy as a lark by 10:45 am.

On my last day, the class presented me with a flowering plant planted in a clay pot.  Around the pot’s rim was inscribed, “Thank you for helping us bloom.”  And every child autographed the pot.

And lest I should never forget the joy, they left me with one final memory to embed.  A group hug.  20 angels squeezing me.  One boy ordered (and they all obeyed), “Okay everybody, let’s lean to the right!”

*All of these events happened but actual names have been changed.

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