04/06/2015 04:46 pm ET Updated Jun 05, 2015

Herding Kids

As a retired elementary school teacher I sometimes do substitute teaching. I do this because I like being with kids and also enjoy the extra spending money I earn that takes me on trips.

This afternoon I taught a grade-one class of squirrely little dears. On my entering the classroom it was reported to me that two boys had poked and punched another. All three boys came before me and told their versions. In a friendly but firm manner I said, "It's not okay. You know better, no more," and off they went. I felt confident and in charge.

Getting the children settled on the carpet for their lesson wasn't exactly instant. It reminded me of a saying that has to do with herding and cats, but eventually we got there after much verbal prodding and some discussion.

The language lesson was in French, not my strength by any stretch, but I went valiantly through it with the class. The instructions I gave were clear (to me, anyway). I felt good about how I'd presented the lesson. Off the children went to their desks to do their assignment. I soon became introduced to the percentage of students who are in all classes, those who don't listen and those who have some struggle. I patiently went over what they needed to do one-on-one, but back they came time after time with things left out or done incorrectly. "Robert," I asked, for what rabbits eat you circled chicken. Does that seem right to you?" I said to Jamie, "You haven't circled any food you eat for lunch or dinner. You must eat something." Jaimie was very clear that he only ever ate breakfast which certainly made the assignment easier. "Ethan, I see that you circled dog for what birds eat," I said. "I'm not so sure about that. I think they eat things like worms or seeds." I was thinking of eagles and hawks and wondered if I was misleading little Ethan. Oh well.

As I was giving instructions to the class Conner started flapping his paper frantically in my face. Exasperated, I stopped what I was saying to deal with the proper way of getting my attention. I was starting to lose my earlier cool.

After recess Sydney, one of the girls, reported that two of the boys had touched her bottom on the way into school. These two villains were brought to me and firmly told that wasn't okay and not to do it again.

Just then, there was a knock on the classroom door. Two little boys from another class stood in the hallway. One of them spoke. "Miss, Liam said the ch word to me." Ch word? Ch word? I quickly went through my vocabulary of swear words in both French and English and came up with nothing.
"Perhaps you could whisper the ch word in my ear," I suggested to this little boy. He put his hands over his face just as Liam, who had been listening, accused him of saying the s word first. That seemed to end it as the two accuser and his friend left. I never did find out what the ch word was.
I was busy checking papers as a little line of children waited in front of me. Suddenly, I saw the legs of Michael moving back and forth. I realized he was kicking another boy, aiming to maim. I swung him around. Oh boy, was I angry as I told him off and sent him to his seat! Being a loving and friendly teacher wasn't where I was at in that moment.

The book I've compiled, "Heartbeats, True Stories of Love" expresses my belief that love is the most important thing in life. Sometimes I remember and sometimes I forget for a moment, a day or even longer, but I always come back to this belief. It does help, however, when children aren't high on speed or pure glucose injection. Children really are sweet, though. I'm glad they're part of my life.

"Heartbeats, True Stories of Love" contains 50 entertaining, inspiring and uplifting stories that people have shared from the heart with me. It is available on Amazon and Smashwords as an e book and paperback.

You can find it here.