So, there I was sitting in a classroom full of third graders at Awesome Elementary School.
Now, this classroom is run by an appallingly good teacher. I say appallingly because watching her in action makes me realize how very far I have to go if I even want to be considered in the same solar system with her.
Anyway, self-loathing aside done.
She was in the process of reading to the class a wonderful updating of the gingerbread man (“Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man!” Yeah, that one. ) fable written and drawn by Jan Brett. The book is called Gingerbread Baby and it’s absolutely wonderful.
The book is beautifully painted, with intricate drawings showcasing fully realized characters in a charmingly rustic setting.
If it wasn’t being read to a class full of students who would have pounded me if I did what I wanted, I would have snatched that book away from the teacher and simply lingered over each sumptuous page.
Just lovely stuff.
Anyway, back to the setting.
It’s obvious from looking at the story that it takes place in the past. The house is located up in the mountains during winter and there is no one else around. It looks like a sort of alpine farm. The house is obviously a log cabin of sorts and the clothing looks like it came from at least early in the last century, possibly the century before that.
So the teacher asked her class about that setting, knowing that it was set far in the past and figuring that she would get an answer similar to what she was expecting. Her expectations were only moving toward confirmation when she called on a whip-smart young dude named, for our purposes, Raul.
“It was done a long time ago,” Raul said.
“That’s right, Raul. So what–”
“A long time ago, probably in the 1980s or maybe even the 1970s.”
I’m just glad I wasn’t drinking my carbonated caffeinated beverage of choice at the time or I would have spit it all over the classroom.
The teacher, who is much, much younger than I am, still got a good laugh out of it.
We’d forgotten, you see, that time, to a young dude like that, is a very personal thing. If something happened in the past, then, to him, it’s the past of which he can conceive. To him, 40 years ago, is a very long time, indeed.
Even though I slunk out of the classroom a bit chastened, at least I learned something good: Jan Brett made a wonderful book that I will purchase for my own library.
Now if I can just find young dudes or dudettes who will sit still long enough for me to read it to them.