He always starts talking to me when the line is coming in from the playground, before he's even crossed the threshold of the classroom. This tells me he plans what he's going to tell me each morning near the four square court. He always repeats himself a few times, because it's important and I might not have heard.
"I'm playing baseball and I'm going to get one hundred dollars for every game, 'cause that's what they get."
"This spring?" I ask.
"Yep. A hundred dollars. That's what you get."
I've volunteered at the snack bar for Little League, and I know what they get per game. I can only hope that his mom will clear things up before the first game is over. I hate to see him looking at the real after-game compensation--a paper cup with lukewarm orange soda.
I take the coward's way out and nod my head vigorously and say, "Wow! Cool!"
The teacher can't be the one to crush their hopes and dreams. When I was in the sixth grade, I was on my way to swimming lessons. It was our neighbor's turn to drive. He wasn't my teacher, but he was the Assistant Superintendent of Schools. I had just finished my first novel It was a hundred pages written mostly on colored notebook paper. I told that Assistant Superintendent that I was going to have it published. I was so proud. And then...he laughed. Real nice. Luckily, my amazing sixth grade teacher, Mary Rinear, said, "Of course you'll have a book published. You're a writer."
I didn't bother calling the carpool driver when ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER was published. But I did call my old teacher. I found her, still teaching at a school 3,000 miles away from me. She said, "I'm not surprised. You were always a writer."