I have enjoyed watching Ms. Perky grow into her own as the newest member of our kindergarten teaching team. Oh sure, she's cute, adorable, intelligent, funny, perky and YOUNG, but dammit we love her in spite all of that. (We're convinced she's twelve, but she insists she's not.)
My heart skips a beat each time she shares one of the lessons she's learned with me, and I have often felt that we are kindred spirits - even though I'm a FEW years older. We both agree that long-range planning means 30 minutes before the kids arrive; that the bad little boys make us smile; that white can be worn any day of the year; that every day is a new day, and that you can always find something to love about each and every child.
We were sharing some stories, our incredible Christmas gifts and smiles after the last day before Christmas vacation, when she started to tear up.
"I think the best present of all came from Max," she continued, as she reached into her pocket for something.
"I was opening all those amazing presents, and he was standing back watching quietly. I knew he wasn't able to bring anything in, and I felt awkward opening all the presents - but I knew the kids wanted me to open what they had brought. I was trying to be low-key, but they were crazy with excitement!" I smiled, knowing full well what craziness she was referring to, as the whole school shook that day. Some of us might have even yelled once or twice. Maybe.
"So I was done, and sent the kids to the carpet when Max came up to me. He handed me this big rubber band, and said 'I got this for you Miss Perky. You know, to put your hair into your pony tail.' It was the rubber band that I had seen on the floor by my desk."
She wiped her eyes and smiled. "That small gesture has given me the best gift of all. He gave me a gift that was real, honest and pure - and right from the heart."
And then she pulled up her hair and put that dirty, filthy rubber band in her hair.
I love her. (Even if she IS young and adorable.)