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Looking for honesty? Kids' letters provide it

Kids say the darndest things. That shouldn't surprise me, considering the old TV series by the same name - or my personal history.

But it still did when I received a batch of letters from Maile Steimer's seventh-grade language arts class at Jones Middle School in Buford. The letters, which I recently came across and read again, were in response to a reading day hosted by the school.

Professionals representing a multitude of occupations were asked to read a book to an individual class, then talk about their jobs. It was a fun experience, and the kids had plenty of questions.

The questions were good, and some were funny. But the kids' thank-you letters were even better, some of them reminding me of my own childhood.

I grew up in central Illinois and am infamous for remarks I made in kindergarten. One Friday, the teacher told us to ask our parents about Abraham Lincoln over the weekend and be ready to make a report on Monday.

My hometown is less than 20 miles from the Illinois city that bears Lincoln's name. But that fact did not help me remember to ask my parents about Honest Abe.

Since I hadn't asked, I was understandably caught in a tight spot. So when the teacher called on me, I responded the only way I knew how:

"My parents said they never heard of the guy."

It was a line that haunted my folks for a long time. For years after that, there wasn't a dinner party, basketball game or school gathering they attended where Lincoln wasn't mentioned.

So kids saying, or writing, clever things shouldn't surprise me. But the letters I received from Jones Middle School did, pleasantly so. So I wanted to share some excerpts:

"I enjoyed your speech very much. Thank you for taking the time to drive out to the middle of nowhere to talk to us." - Ian

"Do you ever get a day off? Your job sounds busy. I bet the people get tired after a while." - Karen

"I didn't know they used so much ink and paper. That has to be expensive." - Matthew

"I can't believe you have to go through a room full of paper. I bet you have to go to the store or order a lot of paper each day." - Krystal

"You really taught me a lot about your job. It seems really cool, but it's not my type." - Mallery

"When my teacher told us a person was going to talk to us, I thought it was going to be boring, but it wasn't." - Eric

"I love the comics. I read them every time we get the paper. They are funny once in a while." - Kyle

"I think the newspaper industry is very cool. Yet I still don't think I want to join. If I don't become a baseball or football player, I'll think about it." - Dallas

"I liked your visit. I wouldn't mind working at a newspaper when I grow up." - Mini

"When did you get into the newspaper (industry)? I also want to be in the newspaper (industry). I am currently doing a paper route." - Gary

"I enjoyed you being there. Whenever people asked you a good question, you would always give them a good answer." - Lauren

"I liked how you answered the questions. Well, most of them. But I think you held back a little bit. You only told us the good part of the job. You didn't tell us about the sacrifices you have to make to do the job." - Joy

"You read our class the book (by) Dr. Suess. I think you talked to our class also about newspapers. I think the saddest part was when it ended." - Chris

"I think your job is really cool. It must take a lot of responsibility. I hope everything is going all right. I have been reading the sports section. It is cool how you make them." - Cory

"I thought it was pretty interesting how you worked in the newspaper article thing. Well, I just (wanted) to write to you to say I had a good day when you came and went home happy." - Kyle

"You made being a journalist seem really fun. I don't know if I would want to do it when I'm older, but it might be something to check out in the future." - Mitchelle

"It's cool that you're in Lawrenceville. I used to live in Lawrenceville. ... I miss it because I used to go outside and play every day. Now I live in Chateau Elan. No one ever goes outside to play there. Ever." - John

"How long did it take to (become) editor of the newspaper? I think that you love to write. I hope you had a good time visiting our class." - Steven

I did, Steven. And I enjoyed the letters, too.

Todd Cline can be reached via e-mail at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.

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