“The first is the worst,
Second is the best,
Third is the one with the treasure chest!”
As the buses enter the school gates, I silently join in the chant with the children as they look out to see how many buses have come before ours. It is un-teacher like to sing along!. Today we are the treasure chest.
Sometimes when we are first, the chant is edited to make the first the best.
Hurried attempts are made to invent something cool when we come in fourth. Buses after that do not even deserve to qualify. They are simply not good enough.
The ride in the bus is perhaps the most exciting part of my school day. Yesterday a first grade student showed me his treasure. Shining crystals hidden in a black stone. He had two small pieces to show his friends in school and many more at home. “Look” he said , “it has a million crystals.”
I looked at a gravel pebble shining in his hands. “Put it in your hand and let the sun shine on it. Look how is glitters.” He said. I had to agree. It did have millions of crystals peeping out of grey-black stone.
I told him I loved them and that he was so lucky to have them. He smiled and spent the next few minutes in silence after which he told me that, after a lot of thinking, he had decided to give me a bit of his treasure. I would have to wait though, he would have to go home and find something that was nice enough to give me.
In my secret life, I also collect pebbles and imagine them to be precious stones. The flower beds in the garden are tropical paradises and I, shrunk a million sizes smaller, am an explorer.
I will take any chance I can to take off my shoes and allow my feet to burn deliciously on the stone footpaths in school. The grass that big boards tell us to keep off, plump themselves up in mossy clusters, daring us to roll on them. I walk till the edge and pretending to be in some deep thought, let a toe touch the edge of the grass.
There is also an attic in my secret life. In that attic there are old wooden chests. One of them is full of old forgotten books. Books that I can draw patterns on with the dust they have collected. They are hardcover and have beautiful illustrations in them. Someone who owned them has written a note for anyone who might read them. The note is in code. It is my job to decipher it and try to figure if I am being guided to a treasure or being told some terrifying secret. Right at the bottom of the box there are comics. All kinds of comics. Hundreds of comics. I will spend long summer afternoons with the sun coating my feet, my back and my hair, next to me will be ice lemonade and chips. A pile of comics will lie next to me. Enough to last me a few hours. The sun and shadows will bind me with invisible threads to the ground and so I had better stock up on supplies till the threads wear thin with the setting sun.
The other chest will be full of all kinds of odds and ends. Mismatched china plates, blue and white, each whispering a story. An old old clock that goes CLANG in an rusty 80 year old voice, raggedy dolls with many dresses to spare, doll tea sets, coins from all over that I will allow to sing merrily in my hands, shells, tiny ones, colourful ones, too wee to hold to the ear and allow the sea in.
I do not know what the other chests hold. The key is lost and I want to allow them to keep their secrets for now. Who knows, I may find emeralds and rubies. Sapphires and opals.
…………………sigh…………….when the school bell brings me back to my dull desk…I must , forcibly pick up the text book and become a dull boring teacher and keep ready a yelling, just in case the work I asked them to do is not done………
……….will ramble on though…later..