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Terri Simon

Refresher course

One part of my job which I truly enjoy are the opportunities I have to visit area schools. Sometimes I’m there to do an interview or take a photo, while other occasions find me in the halls of education to speak to a class about the newspaper business. Either way, I most always leave each school with a feeling of appreciation for the teachers who lead their students through the educational — and often the life skills — process.

When I was a child, I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize some things just aren’t meant to be, and that’s for good reason. For me, teaching would be fun for about a week. After that, I’d be on my last nerve ... which explains why I have such an appreciation for teachers. But back to my story ...

So I found myself headed into a school the other day, when I saw one of my favorite teachers on the playground. I was a bit early, so I thought I would go over and say hi to this teacher, who was obviously on playground duty. We chatted for a while as she kept a close eye on her young charges. The kids were crazy wild, and even though we chatted casually, this teacher didn’t miss a beat when it came to keeping an eye on the kids and reprimanding them when needed.

Just as I was about to head into the school, I watched as a young boy came toward us. He had a distressed look on his face as he approached us. There were no tears, but I thought there might be soon. Without hesitation, he spoke to my teacher friend ...

“(Classmate’s name) is throwing grass at me,” the little boy told the teacher. “He’s throwing a lot of it at me, and it’s getting in my mouth,” he continued. From the size of the child, I assumed he was a first- or second-grader.

And then with all the wisdom teachers are known to have, my teacher friend delivered the following: “Well, keep your mouth closed and go play somewhere else,” she said quickly.

The little boy appeared to be studying his teacher’s words for a minute, and then he was off, doing as he was told and heading to the opposite side of the playground.

“Well, that was easy,” I said to the teacher.

“No,” she said just as quickly. “That was common sense.”

I chuckled out loud and headed off into the school, but I don’t mind telling you the teacher’s words stayed with me all day long ... “Keep your mouth closed and go play somewhere else.”

As I think back, I have to tell you I believe those words of wisdom are great advice — not just for a little kid on the playground, but for all of us ... “Keep your mouth closed and go play somewhere else.” In fact, they might just be some of the most brilliant words I’ve heard in a long time.

Like the little kid who was throwing grass on the playground, we all — at one time or another — have that person or persons, who tend to throw a lot our way. While it probably isn’t something so simple as a handful of grass, they tend to throw their words, their actions, their demeanor, their attitudes, etc., at us. And of course, I think our first inclination in dealing with these types of people is to lash back and throw some words, actions or attitudes back at them. At the very least — like the little kid complaining to his teacher on the playground, we want someone to acknowledge our misery, and we spread the other person’s wrongdoing like it’s gospel to anyone who will listen.

But what if we adopted the teacher’s advice — “Keep your mouth closed and go play somewhere else?” In essence ... ignore the problem. Don’t let your own mouth perpetuate the issue. And then walk away and move on to something else.

A life lesson I should practice more often ... Problem solved, and I keep my own dignity intact in the process. Thanks, my teacher friend. Sometimes an adult needs a common sense lesson too.

Tonica News Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@tonicanews.com.