“Good evening, ma’dame!” a short haired little boy said as he walked quickly by me. I was shopping on an otherwise quiet aisle of the ShopRite.
Moments ago, I’d turned around to see two little male rascals round the corner of the aisle, running full speed. I instinctively gave them my teacher stare, the one that used to be the talk of the second grade hallways, as I could, and often would, correct a naughty child just with a glare.
The little boys in the ShopRite immediately stopped running when my eyes met theirs. As they began to walk, albeit quickly, towards me, I continued to glare at them, not even realizing what I was doing.
The other scooted by me, and in the same fashion as the first he said confidently, picking up his little head and showing me all of his little teeth, “Good evening, ma’dame!”
My heart warmed a little and I smiled a genuine, heartfelt smile at both of them.
“Good evening, little gentlemen,” I responded.
In a previous life, which feels like ages ago, but also one which affected me more deeply than any other experience I’ve had so far, I was a school teacher.
Teaching small children is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not just coloring, and stickers, and glitter, and paint, and the like, despite popular (and hilariously incorrect) opinion.
Teaching small children was probably the best opportunity I’ve had in my whole life. Teaching school prepared me for pretty much the rest of my life: working in corporate America, dealing with change, dealing with heart breaking difficulties, learning how to explain crazy things in simple ways, learning how to guard my tongue with amazing efficiency.
I can still go from sailor to saint in one sentence, all thanks to my time as a school teacher.
I don’t exactly miss teaching, though. Teaching was also the most painful job I’ve ever had. I wanted to save all the children; I wanted to punch a LOT of the parents square in the face. Perhaps I should erase that last line in case this is one day read by a principal who is considering hiring me, in the off chance that I return to the classroom one day. Nah, as the kids say: YOLO (you only live once), I’ll take my chance. Besides, notice I said I wanted to punch PARENTS, not children.
The children were mostly a delight, especially as I look back on the experience now, six years later, and literally half a world away. This time, six years ago, I was probably taking away some poor kid’s Popsicle for being naughty. No regrets, I’m sure that kid deserved it. Needed it!
Even though my tenure as a school teacher seems like a life time ago, I still recall my experiences fondly. And when I’m out in Lagos, I love to see the school kids walking around. The Nigerian children go to what seems to be different schools that have different, colorful sets of uniforms.
I don’t know how the color palettes work. I don’t know if these colors are for one school or if those colors are for a grade of child. If I had to guess, I’d guess that the colors represent some school.
Their uniforms are so colorful and fun that it’s just so delightful and heartwarming to see them walk down the street.
The uniforms worn at the schools where I taught were mostly beige/ khaki bottoms and a shirt that was red, blue, green, or white. BORING.
Lagos knows how to dress their school children! COLORS GALORE! I think it’s so delightful.
I took these photos from the car while out today. Forgive the quality of the photos; I took them from a moving car. But you can still get the idea.
My favorite is the photo at the beginning of this post. The two boys, dressed in their colorful clothes, walk down the busy street in Lagos, with the older one tenderly resting his arm around the smaller one’s shoulder. Even in the hectic, noisy, and hot chaos of Lagos, if you look closely enough, you’ll see little moments of sweet peace, just like this.
Until tomorrow, my friends…STAY COLORFUL and embrace your youth