Odd Jobs in an Odd Economy: A Reality Blog by Daniel McLeod

Tearing the Fabric of Society in Kindergarten Class

They’re out there. Across the world in small pockets, clandestine groups, they have one thing that unites them: a disdain for order, our freedoms and our way of life. They lust for anarchy and the fall of all established order. I should know - I once penetrated the dark heart of the beast and saw it all go down right here on America soil. Yes, I spent a day as a substitute teacher in kindergarten.

The morning began innocently enough. I was filling in for an art teacher and had a prep period with the room all to myself. I got to kick back at the desk, review my plans for the day and savor a coffee as I took stock of the room. I admired the convex mirror in the upper corner of the room and children’s artwork festooning the walls. There were watercolor flowers dancing in lemon sunshine, magic marker portraits and spray-painted macaroni glued to construction paper, spelling out names like Dolly, PJ and Jeffy in capital letters. It struck me how pure and colorful their perception of the world was.  I was eager to see their untainted creativity unfold before my eyes.

Soon a bell rang. A teacher led the first gaggle of sweet and cheerful kids to the room from their last class like a momma duck. They all sat down and after roll call, I passed out 11 x 18 sheets of manila paper along with baskets of extra large crayons. When I asked them to draw their favorite animals, they spent thirty diligent minutes cranking out dogs on spindly legs, dinosaurs, blue elephants, and flying turtles. One girl named Ayanna even drew a portrait of me waving with a big smile. You might say all was going well.

Then came third period and a kid we’ll just call Demian. Three feet tall, with sandy blond hair, deep brown eyes and chipmunk cheeks, Demian had his loveable bases covered. Of course, so did Chucky in Child’s Play, and that mother hit the ground running. First, Demian assumed a fake identity at roll call by switching seats with his neighbor and then kept doing a jig on his seat whenever I turned to help other kids draw their moms or pterodactyls.

Apparently raised by animals, Demian summoned the call of the wild and let out a high-pitched howl that was instantly joined by his classmates.

“AWOOOOOO!”

It was a hell of a din that had to be derailing the teachers next door. It was time to act.

“ENOUGH,” I boomed, “Alright class, if you keep this up, I’ll be forced to talk to the principal and she’ll call all of your parents.”

A tense serenity filled the room. Little did they know it was a bluff, but it worked.

“Much better,” I said, confident as I restored order, “Now it’s OK to talk quietly as you draw, but any more outbursts will not be tolerated.”

I surveyed their faces, making eye contact so they knew I wasn’t kidding. After that, they worked in relative silence as they became absorbed in their multi-colored flights of fancy. Once again peace and productivity reigned.

For about a minute.

I was admiring the finer nuances of a scribbled kitten when I heard it from behind - a lone cry that became a chorus.

“AWOOOOOOOOOO!”

Demian. I spun around and there he was, face upturned and baying to an imagined moon.

“You’re coming with me,” I said stretching out my hand for him to take. He and the class went silent as I escorted him out of the room. Separated from the pack, this figurehead, this provocateur in the monkey cage, wasn’t so bold as he sat in the hallway looking up at me with doe eyes.

Then from inside the room: “AWOOOOOOOO!!!”

Goddamn. They were all at it again. This time I stepped right in, pointed to the new ringleader, Adolph, and motioned for him to take a seat next to Demian. I started to tell them both that their behavior was unacceptable, that they were doing their classmates a disservice, that they were just hurting themselves, yadda, yadda, yadda…

“Skippy,” a shrill voice cried, “Stop it!!”

Another crisis was unfolding in the room. I stepped back in the door and there was Lucy, brows furrowed and glaring at Skippy next her who, as soon as he saw me, ferreted a broken crayon into his lap and started drawing.

Lucy cried indignantly and showed me her pile of broken crayons. I looked at Skippy and pointed for the door.

“But now she has a lot more,” Skippy protested as I followed him out.

Then from inside the room: “AWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

No shit. I stepped in and there they were, some jumping, some sitting, but all with their chins to the sky and belting out their best howls. It was leaderless resistance at its decentralized finest and all I could do was sit down as the wild flames of insurrection blazed. I looked to the door and there were Skippy, Adolph and Demian peering in, eyes alight and grinning.

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