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Small Talk: Spring in their steps

You never need a calendar at elementary school to know when spring has arrived. And in California, of course, it arrives before the snow stops falling elsewhere.

I can tell because no one under 5 feet tall is able to just walk. Not through the library, office, or across the playground asphalt. Hence the nurse is busier than ever passing out Band-Aids and fixing road rash. She is also hoping that the cold and flu season has peaked, because we were racking up record absences in February. We would never wish those sweet kids ill, but I suspect the teachers rather enjoyed the smaller class size for a few days.

I tell them to slow down gently. I tell them to slow down loudly — all to no avail. The sun has come out and whatever signal goes off when the weather turns mild, is loudly ringing inside every kid between 5 and 25. I suspect some of the younger teachers would like to run, too.

I actually view this time of the year with a hidden smile. I love watching the youngsters start to gambol like new lambs. The older ones gather in small, all-girl or all-boy groups to whisper and giggle, as they sneak looks at, or occasionally chase, each other.

It is also the time of year when the boys compete to see who can leap up and touch to top of the library door. And now, in the 21st century, there are equal exhibitions of girl power.

I needed to rearrange some rather large bookcases in the school’s library. I thought about waiting until some willing grown-ups were at hand, but waiting is not my favorite thing. So, when a group of high-energy, adorable sixth-grade girls wandered in and asked if they could do anything to help, I decided to go with some female muscle.

Worry not. I was very cautious. I had no desire to have anyone pull a muscle, female or otherwise. But these girls were amazing. They listened to what I asked, did what I told them, worked as a unit, and, by George, we moved bookcases. And they did it without breaking a sweat. I nearly broke into a Spice Girls song. I was that proud of them. I rewarded them with goofy stuff from the $1 store. They have decided that they are now my go-to muscle crew for any project I might have in the future, and I love that. It’s good to know powerful young women have my back.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who is sorry these adorables are about to hit junior high. Contact her at [email protected]