Do you remember how weird it was when you were a kid and you ran into your teacher somewhere other than school? Maybe you saw her at the grocery store or at the mall. She'd smile and make small talk with your mom as you stood by silently wondering why she wasn't at school even though it was 5 PM on a Saturday. And like the day you caught your mom strategically placing presents under the Christmas tree while your dad ate Santa's cookies, your visions of a perfect world are dashed as you realize your teacher actually exists outside of the classroom.
Last weekend I dashed the visions of one of my own students in an awkward moment that went way beyond the innocuous meeting in the cereal aisle. I was running. But I wasn't just running. I was sweaty and smelly and red faced and makeup-less and out of breath and in desperate need of a shower.
I probaby could have (and should have) avoided the whole thing because when I stopped running and approached my former kindergarten student and his entire family, I realized just a second too late that I was so unrecognizable in my current state of yuck that they had no idea who I was. The surprised mother thankfully made the connection once I started talking, but that little 6-year-old boy just stood there and stared at me like I was Darth Vader singing a Lady Gaga song. There are just some people that are super cool on their own, but put them together and the result isn't so pretty.
The father must have sensed my discomfort because he graciously encouraged me to continue with my run while he chased after his traumatized son who had raced off on his bike. As I repositioned my earbuds and attempted to find my pace again, I reassured myself that a chance meeting with a student could have been worse. I could have been walking down my driveway in my pajamas to retrieve the newspaper. I could have been at the beach wearing a string bikini. I could have been singing karaoke while downing my third shot of tequila.
And then I caught of glimpse of my reflection in a car window. Nope, couldn't have been much worse than this.
Grabbing some inspiration from the blogging guru of writing prompts, Miss Mama Kat...