I don’t remember what Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction was on Groundhog Day, but there is no doubt that spring has arrived.
I know this simply by watching the youngsters around the schoolyard. It doesn’t really matter if it’s sunny or gray. There are certain undeniable signs from every age level.
When you eyeball the kindergarteners, for instance, you find that they have begun looking like first-graders and hardly ever wander through the library anymore with that “Where the heck is my classroom and what was my teacher’s name again?” look in their eyes.
Those with the most obvious symptoms are the sixth-graders, of course. With the arrival of spring, you find small knots of girls either giggling wildly or crying inconsolably. This can change in the time it takes you to blink. Should you get close enough to hear what is causing all this drama, it will be sixth-grade boys.
The sixth-grade boys are suddenly sporting very hip hairdos and the occasional men’s cologne and can often be seen circling the aforementioned knot of girls. Occasionally, in that age-old springtime custom, one is seen chasing the other, usually at a speed they are not supposed to go, in places they are not supposed to be, with accompanying shrieks for sound effects.
The other clear sign is the stunned look of horror on every sixth-grader’s face for the entire day they have Human Growth and Development class. That, also, is the one day the girls avoid the boys and the boys avoid the girls. It doesn’t last.
First-graders are generally feeling pretty darned smug at this point, as most have learned to read. The library is their oyster, baby. I have to keep sending them back to the primary section after they lug the biggest book they can find up to the check-out desk. It doesn’t matter that it is the “Trilogy of the Rings” or “The Complete Encyclopedia of Human Knowledge.” They figure if they can read, then they want to read big.
A sure sign of spring for the second- and third-graders is basically that they require twice as much P.E. time as possible to burn off energy. They also seem to skip faster, jump higher and think they can stop on a dime and give you nine cents change. They have to be told to stop testing this theory at least once a day.
The seasonal sign for fourth-graders is rather particular to my school, as we have a giant, stuffed bee hanging from the library ceiling. Spring is the time the fourth-graders have grown just enough that they can finally leap up and touch the bee. It is a rite of passage and there is a spot where all its fuzz is worn off from this annual ritual.
The true growth spurts, however, are reserved for the fifth-graders, who every spring begin looking eye to eye with me. I knew them all by sight and name last year. Then they shoot up, lose the baby fat around their faces, shoulders get wider, waists get smaller and suddenly, I don’t recognize two-thirds of them. And they love that.
My challenge now is to get the books returned before Spring Fever/Almost Summeritis completely clouds their brains (and possibly mine).
Filed Under: Small Talk