Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Visit to First Grade

The little event at my son's school that I mentioned last week as the reason for me missing a morning of writing was actually Mystery Reader Day, and I was escorting the reader. The intent was to invite people with interesting careers in to read a story about their job and answer any questions the kids (first graders) might have. Well, my husband's job as an environmental engineer isn't all that thrilling (even he will tell you that), and I'm not currently working...outside the home. I figure stay-at-home moms are pretty devoid of mystery, and I'm not sure I want 6-year-olds asking me what I write about...there could be uncomfortable questions. So, I volunteered someone else: my husband's childhood friend, who has become a commercial airline pilot. I thought the kids would love that, and they did. Let's just call the visitor PilotMan.

PilotMan got all dressed up, in full uniform, and brought his flight bag/briefcase/whatever filled with maps and binders and whatnot. None of that stuff ever made it out of the bag. But the uniform got a couple of reactions. As we were walking down the hall to my son's classroom, a bunch of kids all in a line saw him and said, 'Whooooa!'. I suppose they could have been talking about me, but I doubt it.

When we got to the classroom, we had a few spare minutes before the kids came in, and let me tell you it was sweltering in there. PilotMan was visibly perspiring but wanted to keep the full effect of his uniform, blazer, hat, and all. And then they started trickling in. One of the first kids to come in asked PilotMan if he was a lawyer (!), but the rest just looked impressed.

Then he introduced himself and read two short stories about airplanes. And then, it was time for questions. It started out tamely enough, with just general comments like 'I've flown on an airplane before', but then they wanted to know where PilotMan had flown and where different places were. So PilotMan looks at me and says, 'Alyssa, did you bring that globe?'

I'm sure I shot him a squinty look, thinking, I walked in with you. Did you see me hauling along a globe? Where would I have hidden it. But I suppressed my sarcastic side and just said, 'Oh, there's one over there', pointing across the classroom. Well, let me just say that once the globe was out, the question/answer session was almost rapid-fire.

'Where's Bolivia?'

'Bolivia? I just flew there last week.' (PilotMan)

'It's a long way to Bolivia' (little girl whose family lives in Bolivia)

'Where's Mexico?'

'Where's New York?'

...you get the picture.

Then, in the middle of all this, someone says, 'Where does Elvis live?' PilotMan looked up and (he told me later) wondered if he should mention anything about Elvis being dead. But before he can decide, another kid pipes up with, 'Isn't he dead?', and another adds, 'He died in his bathtub, didn't he?' Egads! Who is feeding these children this information about Elvis???

Still, despite comments about The King, it went very well, and PilotMan told me he had a good time. He passed out sticky-backed wings for all the kids and the little bags of pretzels they hand out on the airplane. Most of the kids were thrilled with this, but a couple wanted actual wings...the gold kind, like PilotMan had. Oh well...

My son said PilotMan has been his favorite Mystery Reader, despite the FBI agent who staged a little mystery, complete with fingerprinting, and the Marine Biologist who brought in a turtle. High praise indeed! It was totally worth a missed morning of writing.


Swishy said...

Those are some lucky first-graders! I don't remember doing anything that remotely cool. Wait, that's a lie. One kid's dad brought in the thing they use to make Twinkies. But that was it.

kathrynoh said...

Wow, what a fun thing to have at school. We never had anything like that but then everyone's parents were dairy farmers - boring.

Christine said...

Forget first grade, I want to talk to him! You should have a pilot as your next hero Alyssa. Or maybe you have already. :)

Karitown said...

Very cool. I don't remember anything like that either. lUcky kids.

Beck said...

That is REALLY fun! My husband's dad works on roofs; my husband is a graphic designer. His dad came to see him at work one day while my husband was working on a bikini calendar and just could NOT believe that he gets paid to do that.
Not that you could tell that to first-graders. But still.

Trish Ryan said...

The only guest speaker I remember from first grade told us how to brush our teeth properly. Good information, but it wasn't a pilot or a turtle.

should-be-working said...

League City? Wow, I used to live in South Shore Harbor myself. Truly is a small world. :)

Amanda Brice said...

That sounds so fun! I think we should have a Mystery Reader at my work. Why should the first graders get all the fun?