Purple ribbon and a box of chocolates. Surrounded by faces, and one kid claps. Thank you, thank you, what more can I say? I don’t even know most of them, yet they’re presenting me with a gift for simply being here.
Who taught them this generosity–after hours, with their own money, on their own time? Surely my ever-present smile does not merit all of this. To be honest, the smile appears because I don’t understand, I don’t know what else to do, and I try to distract with my teeth while the rest of me finds the exit.
Yet here they are, these youth, these recipients of my undirected, probably awkward, smile stare. And they’re thanking me. I will have to do something to deserve this, which, in the moment, feels like the closest to an Oscar or Nobel Peace Prize that may ever come my way. Where can I possibly go from here?
I have so much to learn.
I think I’ll start with their names.