I had good kids. But with boys being boys, they were still far from perfect. So every year when I met their new teacher, I always asked her to cut them a little slack because it wasn't their fault their gene pool included Viking blood. I figured it couldn't hurt, and I was right.
One day a teacher called to tell me she'd caught my son (I won't say which one) behaving inappropriately.
She said, "Normally, I would have put him in time out, but then I thought about your Viking blood comment and all I could do was laugh."
I thought of that "ethnic joke" getting my son off the hook when I took a long-term subbing position in kindergarten at Arcado last year. I had a similar experience on the other side of the desk.
During open house, a mother asked me if I'd had any trouble with her daughter.
"Absolutely none," I said. "She's an angel."
"I wouldn't call her an angel," she said, "but she definitely is a free spirit. Like at her ball games, she dances in the outfield like she has no idea what's going on around her. That kind of thing. Please let me know if she's ever a problem."
So I carefully watched my little free spirit. When we worked on writing the alphabet, she drew her lower case e's like out of control @ signs and dotted her i's with flowers. Was that a free spirit thing? When I subbed at Parkview, all the high school girls did that. My free spirit was just precocious, I thought.
The next time I saw her mother, she asked, "Has she been any trouble?"
"Absolutely not," I replied.
But gradually I noticed that when we came in from the playground, my free spirit spent more and more time stopping to smell the roses. And the daisies. And the weeds. So I just made sure she was never at the end of the line. No big deal.
Then one day, during our bathroom break, I noticed all my boys were lined up ready to leave and all of my girls were still in the restroom. Another class was impatiently waiting. I charged into the girls' room to see what was holding things up.
There was a little curly-haired darling, dressed in pink, grasping a 10-foot length of paper towels still attached to the dispenser and whirling and twirling it to a song she was singing. Nine other little girls, totally bewildered, stood shaking the water off their hands.
Normally I would have read her the riot act and given her time out. But because it was my free spirit, all I could do was laugh.
Susan Larson is a Lilburn resident. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.