Today was the first day of school for most kids across the country, including my grandchildren. After spending most of their summer taking turns visiting me, they’re now back at the chore of becoming educated when they’d rather be playing outside. Even though they knew the time for sharpening pencils and organizing homework organizers was just around the corner, all four of the grandkids took a shot at trying to extract just one more invite for another sleepover.
Noah is the third child in the line up of four. With two older sisters, it’s obvious he feels duty bound to be as much of a pain to them as possible. And being ADHD certainly adds to the impulse to create his own brand of excitement and chaos. Even though he’s rather tiny for his age of 10, and he’s inherited his father’s very slender build, Noah doesn’t seem to have any fear. He has the heart of a lion but the sensitivity of a kitten, and while he may drive you to distraction with his constant movement and lack of concentration, he’ll be the first one to offer sympathies or condolences if you suffer a disappointment.
He’s the kid you call over when a stink bug buzzes past your ear or when fuzzy, kazillion-legged creatures begin an ascent up your calf. If you’re ready to pull out a semi-automatic to take down pesky houseflies dive bombing your head, Noah goes into extermination mode.
Noah’s lack of fear leads to all kinds of gross moments. There was the time when someone dared him to eat a fly for $5.00. Without bothering to ask to see the money first, he snatched up a fly (yep, caught it in mid-flight) and gobbled it down, beaming at his disgusting accomplishment. He wasn’t bothered by admonishments from adults, in the least. The only thing that made him sorry for his actions was his failure to collect the money up front. To this day he laments the loss of his hard earned cash and is determined to collect one day. And though he never received a cash payoff, Noah decided the shock value was worth a few more episodes of eating creepy crawlies. It took quite a bit of convincing from his parents that eating spiders was not good for his health for reasons other than being gross.
When Noah first entered school, we all held our breaths, certain the telephone would be ringing with stories of outrageous escapades and a demand to come and take him home. Every day we’d watch him climb up the steps of the bus, and then go inside to wait with dread for a phone call that never came. Finally after the first couple of years, we began to relax. It seemed that Noah behaved differently for his teachers than he did around his family. We were mistaken.
Having gotten through kindergarten and the first three grades, we began to think his school would survive Noah’s attendance. Fourth grade started off easily enough. The usual papers were brought home for signatures, and piles of information about field trips and activities littered the kitchen table for the first few days of school. A couple of days into the new school year, Noah came home with exciting news. He had been offered the job of Hall Monitor.
His parents and I were almost as excited as he over the honor. We asked him about his duties and whether he understood them. He nodded his understanding. We asked him how it felt to be chosen, and he smiled widely and said it felt good. The next day he took himself off to school, beaming in his eagerness to start his new “job.” Each day we asked how the job was going and each day he nodded his head and smiled broadly. By the third day, it was just another part of his school “career.”
Arriving home that third day, Noah raced through the yard and came through the door in a whirlwind. He slammed down his backpack, and skidded to a halt in the middle of the kitchen. Hands defiantly resting on his hips, eyes hugely round in his face, he blurted out, “They fired me!” He began pacing back and forth with his hands waving in the air as he babbled on about how “they are so unfair” and how “firing him was just WRONG!”
After taking considerable time to calm the boy down, Lindsay (his mother) finally got the story out of him. Apparently, Noah was not only shocked, but a bit miffed over the discovery that the job of Hall Monitor was not a paid position, and he would NOT be receiving a paycheck at the end of the week. He had been counting on that money and decided he would have to take matters into his own hands.
His answer? To charge a dime to every child needing to use the restroom while on his watch. Yes, that’s right. Noah was shaking down his elementary school classmates in exchange for restroom privileges. So he was fired from Hall Monitor, forced to cough up the extortion money garnered, and then replaced the very same day.
“Hey! They weren’t paying me for my time,” he says with that impish grin of his, “I had to find a way to make my own money.”
It’s been a year since he lost his job, and Noah is older and wiser today, but he still mourns the loss of his hard earned money.