Her instructions tell me to go to Room 1 after I’ve finished working with the reading groups to help the MakerSpace teacher set up. “She has a lot of preparation to do.” I want to be known as a substitute people can count on, one who is resourceful and responsible. When the reading specialist opportunity was posted, I took it, and my time with the third and fourth graders has fueled my desire to continue doing this—standing in for the regular classroom teacher.
I have met bright-eyed, eager children so far, with ready smiles and positive attitudes, their hair arranged in some wacky “dos.” I finally have to say something, “Hey Mikey, tell me about your hair.”
“It’s crazy hair day today,” he replies as if I should have known. He has a cluster of small balloons, a riot of color, attached with a rubber band to his black hair. And there’s Jax who beams with pleasure when he introduces himself and promptly counters, “And who are you?” When Jax leaves, he flashes that sunny smile again and says, “I hope you’ll come back.” Hey, I’m IN!
Now my teaching is winding down as I head to the Maker Space. The teacher is filling plastic shoebox-size containers with water, a clean towel under each on the eight tables next to a container of pennies. Whatever they’re making, a mess is part of it, and she seems perfectly happy about that. She introduces herself, and as we measure and cut foil squares for the upcoming week, we begin to chat.
She’s new to the area, too, has just bought a house. “So did we,” I respond. “Where?”
“Pacific Homes Beach Club.”
“That’s where we bought.”
In the conversation that follows, I learn that our street dead ends at her house—the yellow one with a new roof! That she and her husband love it there, the people are so nice and represent various ages and experiences. It’s an animal-loving bunch—good to know, as we have a dog who begs for love but often inspires other reactions—willing to share tools, recipes, and stories.
All of a sudden, I feel a weight lift. “I hope this doesn’t sound weird, cuz I’m not usually like this, but I feel like meeting you today was, sort of…”
“Serendipity,” she says, one of my favorite words and definitely apropos. “I’m so glad to meet another neighbor,” she adds. She readily gives me a card with her information and urges me to contact her if I need anything.
Much more than money made, I weigh the value of my days on the scale of interactions. I feel rich.