Thursday, November 07, 2002


The first graders ran in through the wooden doors
sat down at their spots
orange dots painted on the gym floor
while I continued playing Around the World
How come we don't have a basketball to play with?
a smart-aleck boy said
Because you're too small
How come I don't have a bouncy ball to jump on?
I said
Because you're too big
smart-aleck said
I continued shooting
Why don't you have hair on your chest
a mortgage
driver's license or car to drive
or the glazed over sedation of adulthood?
What's that big word you said mean?
Which one?
See-see. The one that starts out see something
You'll figure it out
About the same time you can make free throws
How come we have to sit?
Because I haven't made it around the world
When will you make it around the world?
I don't know
Can we play now?
Not until after I take attendance.
When is that?
Look, kid, this is getting old
But smart-aleck and the others couldn't sit and by the time I made
the fourth shot the brave ones had grabbed
at the bouncy balls
and pig-tailed girls hip swayed giggle with hula hoops
Now that's something I could never do
the hula hoop
Not even when I was in first grade

On Wednesday, I visited Mrs. Adams' fifth grade class at Kishwaukee Elementary School that had given me so much trouble twice before and I had them write during their scheduled gym time about respect and what it means to them. Some excerpts:

"Treat others the way they want to be treated because if you don't you will get in trouble and if you talk you will be in bigger trouble. you mite end up getting kick out of school."

"I would respect you. I'm a nice little girl. You should get to know me, and I should get to know you. We started off horrible, but we're really good inside. So give us another chance please with sugar on top and chocolate in the middle please give us another chance please."

"Respect means that you have to treat others the way you want to be treated and be kind to others. Don't talk back and listen to what they say. When someone needs help you should help them."

"My class is very disrespectful I admit but sometimes they can be very nice and kind. I'm very sorry about the obnoctus girls in my dreadful class. But would you give us a chance to trie again. I blaim Kristina, Stephane, Jasmine and Josph."

"When talking talk safly."

"I tried to tell you something instead of getting in trouble but you disrespect me by not listening so I disrespected you back, and that's what going to happen every time. You have to respect me to get respect from me." (This is from the girl who gave me the most trouble and refused to cooperate)

"I don't bud in someone's conversation, when someone don't play with me I mind my own buisness not go and say 'ha, you a tooth-faced girl you better be my friend or I will beat you up.'"

I may be back again at that school next week. The janitor/head maintenance guy Joe told me he heard through the grapevine that the regular gym teacher really has a bad back. We'll see. If I work the same class for more than 10 days I get paid more and it's steady work. Both are good things. Now I'm getting all this mail about master's degree programs for teaching that I can sign up for. "SPECIAL -- only two nights a week, right here in Rockford!!" We'll see. I'm not too keen on more student loans. Still paying off my undergraduate. I do know if the academic world beckoned again, I would do quite well. I did quite well as an undergrad except for non-major courses like chemistry and French. Everything else I got A's or B's. Hard to believe it has been more than four years since I graduated.

After school I took a long bike ride south to Harrison Street and discovered unnamed county forest preserve land along the Rock River's west bank just north of Harrison. No sign or entrances, just bottomlands. The boundary has small forest preserve signs. Worth checking out sometime. Next to Davis Park, still on the west bank of the Rock River, near the Fordham Dam, there is a tunnel under a railroad bridge the homeless people have erected shanties in. I wanted to venture inside and have a conversation, but just rode by outside and looked in, saw plywood boards, a shadow in human form and the burning ember of a cigarette. I should go back with notebook and camera. Still remember our visit to Hobo Junction in Beloit. Sad sad sad, but good journalism.

I got my first paycheck tonight after stopping at the Larson's. Still have not been paid by the Beloit Daily News for three stories I did for Stateline Business. What's the deal with that? I notice they've been published on-line. Plus, it's the November issue, and hard copies should be out. I will inquire about that when I submit my next batch of articles.

Tomorrow should be an easy day. No subbing then or Monday. I'm scheduled to go to the Wedgbury Indoor sports arena for an 11 a.m. interview, and will arrange for an interview with Dave Buchan in Beloit (re: the Entrepeneurial Development Center) and Kutter Harley Davidson in Janesville (re: them being the best-selling HD dealer in the US or something). Like to kill all three birds with one stone tomorrow.

My cold is manifesting itself even more. Like every night since Monday, I'm staying in. Today was a beautiful Indian summer day and I rode through the dusk, a most glorious time of day to be outside. Explored my father's old neighborhood on the way home, warm south wind propelling me onward. I get a late afternoon sunshine glimpse of Rockford from a hill on top of Kent Street. So many parks in this town. So many streets. So much to explore in the second city. So much to see.

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