Did my first rodeo speeches this week. Seeing Houston elementary schools is an eye opener and I think I may get more out of these gigs than the kids. I was very impressed with the one I attended today because despite the community (lower income, several strikes against it with parental support of the children at a minimum) this school was bright, cheerful and clean. I remarked to my assistant for the day that i imagined that some of the children might find the school to be somewhat of a sanctuary.
"We have a hard time getting some of them to leave," she said, shaking her head sadly.
Though they may come from some tough situations (one or more parent in jail, etc.) the teachers are not giving them any slack on the discipline front. They used the "zero" to call the kids to quiet and some of those men and women could have given drill sargeants a run for their tough guy status!
Lots of the kids wanted to linger if you gave them just a smile. Kinda broke my heart a time or two.
But so far, as I've shared with the kids the vast knowledge (ahem!) I've gained on all things chuckwagon so I could mesmerize them for 20 minute stints and encourage them to "do good in school, don't do drugs and maybe you can get a scholarship from the rodeo" (and yes, I really said that because they combined the no drugs day with rodeo day and asked us to!), I've had a few chuckles I've had to squash as well as a tear or two to hold back. Here are a few highlights:
One girl asked me if I was a real cowgirl. One boy wanted to know if I had a horse.
One 5th grader was rather enthusiastic in her query as to whether I was a close friend of Hannah Montana.
On the day after Halloween a girl with what I thought was residual makeup on her face asked, "What do you do about the girl with marks on her face?" I asked her to repeat her question and she did. I said, "Marks?" She said, "I was attacked by a pit bull." I said, "I'm sorry you were hurt. I have marks on my face too!" She said, "Yep and they're called freckles." Then she smiled and walked away.
Several third and fourth graders said their favorite food was sushi. I had no clue what sushi was in the fourth grade.
I think I'm going to like this gig but as my buddy Roger says, "No good deed goes unpunished." When I drove away from the school parking lot I noticed not a chip but a gash in my windshield. Seems a baseball must have found a way to have intimate contact with the passenger side of the front window.
Oh well . . . the adventure continues. Can I get big yee ha?