What a day. Late for Ottawa because of car trouble, I flew down the highway praying for no cops. For some reason I seem to get a lot of speeding tickets. (I blame society for running about fifteen minutes faster than I do, so I am always hurrying to catch up.) This morning I was a full two hours behind society, and as a result I resembled a blue rental blur streaking across the landscape. By great good fortune I was passed around Kingston by someone who was even farther behind society than I was, and so followed him at speeds that caused the flesh to peel away from my skin. (In case any bored police out there are reading this blog, I will state for the record that I did not actually break the speed limit. My speedometer showed an astounding number, but I am sure that the car itself was travelling well under the posted rate.) Anyway, I arrived in time to tell jokes for four hours without a break (comedy guys talk about their tight ten -- meaning ten minutes. Ha ha. They should do the elementary school circuit), then back in the car and home, very sedately.
Felt pretty inadequate at one point in the early afternoon, when a boy in the fourth grade (scrawny, underwashed, perpetual sniff), came up at the class changeover and asked if I could be his dad. I had been talking about facing fear and building a strong story where you get back at the bully. I asked the boy if he had a dad, and he nodded kind of unhappily. The teacher was in the background, and I raised my eyebrows at her. She shrugged. A very good dad, she said. What I said to the kid was, I can be your friend. Then he asked if he could hug me.
This is a no no. You are not supposed to get physical with the kids. In pirate lingo, Here be dragons! But the teacher was there, and other kids milling around, and well, darn it, the kid needed a hug. So I gave him one. He didn't burst out crying or anything, but he squeezed pretty hard. I didn't have a candy to offer him, and he probably didn't want a sip of my coffee, so I gave him a bookmark. He thanked me, and I felt ... well, kind of inadequate, like I said. There's a kid like him in every single class. There always has been. I'd blame society -- if only it would slow down enough for me to catch up and talk to it.