Soap

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I sub in the library sometimes, where the kids pour in like a tsunami after school more (much, much more) for the computers than for the books. Sometimes it can become ridiculous, as the one male librarian once explained to me:

“Kids aren’t allowed to play computer games, unless it’s the spelling or typing sites that’s part of their school assignments. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to take advantage of subs and say ‘But Mr. Guilfoyle lets us!’ (pause) Actually they do that to me, too. I’ve walked over to the computers and said ‘no gam–‘ and a kid will cut me off to say ‘But that guy–‘. What guy? I’M the guy.”

One day I was in there and noticed a first grade boy watching the bigger kids on the computers. I’ve subbed in his class a few times by then, so I knew something funny would happen — the kid doesn’t do anything bad, he just does weird cartoony things and has no idea other people can see him.

First, I watched him try to put his hand in his pocket, but because he was too focused on watching the computer screens, his hand kept missing the pocket. He was wearing gym shorts with the pocket sewn onto the side-seam of the pants, so after a few absentminded attempts, somehow his hand just found the wide elastic waistband — and his hand ended up in his pants. And it just stayed there. After awhile, he figured out what ELSE was in his pants, so he just played with his ding-a-ling for awhile.

When he turned away from the computers, he saw me looking at him, and I just said, “Owen, go wash your hands.” He shook his head and said, “I didn’t do anything.” I told him again to go wash his hands and he said, “But I didn’t do that.” (“THAT”?? If he didn’t do it, how did he know that’s what I was talking about?)

He did end up leaving the library (the bathroom is just outside), and came back a few minutes later. Side note: I’m very suspicious of everyone and everything, so I always try to confirm alibis. I asked Owen if he washed his hands and he nodded and said “uh-huh” — so I said “let me see” and started walking towards him. He stopped dead in his tracks, eyes became all wide, then made a u-turn and ran back out the library!

When he came back a few minutes later, shaking his hands in the air, I knew I had ‘scared’ him enough for him to have at least rinsed with actual water — but I wanted to make sure, so I asked “Did you use soap?” He nodded again with a sincere look on his face. This time I said, “Let me smell” and walked towards him again. He held out his hands and was probably thinking “Ms E is SO strict!” but as I was smelling his hand, I was also watching the wave of relief washing over his face that said, “Oh man I’m so glad I actually used soap!”

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