Monday, August 29, 2011

Just How Old Are You?

This morning I had Naomi alone for Study Aid class because Kaitlyn was out sick.  It was the first time I’d had a one-on-one conversation with her.  I had planned on giving her some math calculation probes so I could get a better idea of her abilities in math.  I showed her the paper and my timer and told her I wanted to see how many of the problems she could answer correctly in three minutes.  I emphasized it was important that she do her best, but that it wasn’t really a test that she should worry about.  I then asked if she had any questions before we began.  She did.
            “Do you have any babies?” Naomi asked.  My last “baby” is 20 years old, so a goofy part of me felt flattered.
            “Yes, Naomi.  I have three boys.”
            “Are any of them named Naomi?” she asked.
            I wasn’t quite sure if she was serious, but she was totally focused on me, waiting for my answer.  “No.  Naomi is a girl’s name.  I only have boys.”
            “Oh,” was all she said, staring back as she processed this information.  She didn’t ask any more questions and began doing her math paper.  I wondered how she had gotten to the sixth grade not knowing that Naomi was just a girl’s name.
            Later that afternoon in the general education English class, the students had 20 minutes of class time when they were supposed to be reading the rest of their story silently.  I took Naomi and another student to the Resource Room so I could hear them read out loud.  As we were settling in, Naomi announced loudly, “I have a question.”
            “What’s that, Naomi?”
            “How long have you been teaching?”
            I wondered where this came from.  It was a new way to avoid reading.  “Fifteen years,” I said.
            Naomi stared back and began to grin.  “No.  Really.  How long have you been teaching?”
            “Fifteen years,” I said again.
            Naomi narrowed her eyes, puzzling over this information.  “So. . .you started when you were twenty?”
            I worked hard to keep from smiling.  I like to think I’ve kept my looks up, but come on . . .35?  I thought I’d have some fun.  “No,” I said, “I started when I was . . . 25.”
            Naomi stared long and hard at me.  She was doing the calculation in her head.  Finally, “Oh.”  She had calculated my age.   
            I just knocked ten years off my age and she still bought it.

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