Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's It All About, Alfie?

From our first meeting in his third-grade classroom, Alfie impressed me as a super-eager beaver and just the kind of guy I look for to be in Shakespeare Club.

Toward the end of our group's second meeting, Alfie approached me, his blue eyes wide and his cheeks pale.

"Ms. Ryane?"

"Yes, Alfie, what's up?"

"Can I have a private chat?"

"But of course. Come with me."

I'd told the kids that if they had any concerns they could always ask for "a private chat" and I would find the time for them. Especially if they decided perhaps Shakespeare Club wasn't for them. No problem.

I walked Alfie to the rear of the auditorium while others worked on their journals. Alfie and I took seats next to each other.

"So, what's on your mind, Alfie?"

"Well, it's just that, like...well, I have a lot of things to do....Like, I have another acting class I do on Tuesdays and I have swimming class and then I have a lot of homework...and it's just that...."

Alfie's little voice drifted away.

"Sounds to me like you have a pretty full plate and are maybe feeling overwhelmed. Is that what you mean?"

A vigorous nod.

"No problem, Alfie. I'm impressed that you came forward to talk to me. You don't have to do Shakespeare Club. Really."

"Well, I could let you know next week."

"I need to know before then because I have to let another child in from the waiting list. So, how about you talk it over with your mom tonight and she can email me your final decision. Okay?"

That appeared to be okay with Alfie. I met up with his mom as I was cleaning up the auditorium and she seemed to think that he just wanted to play with other friends outside.

"I'm not so sure," I said. "He does sound stressed and this may not be the year for him and Shakespeare Club."

She emailed me two days later that he wanted to stay in the club and that it was entirely his idea.

The next week all were in attendance except for Alfie.

We started our work and twenty minutes later Alfie's teacher brought a red-eyed crying boy into the room with a note saying he didn't want to disappoint me but he just couldn't do Shakespeare Club.

A few days later I took Alfie out of class for another private chat.

"Alfie, first let me say I'm not at all disappointed in you. In fact, I'm big-time impressed because you know yourself and you know your boundaries. That's a huge thing. If someone said to me, 'Ms. Ryane, come up to the top of this high mountain and ski fast all the way to the bottom,' I would have to say 'no thanks' because I know myself."

"You mean like Fear Bear would help you decide?"

"Yeah, like that. Alfie, you've done a very nice thing for a little girl who was so sad she didn't get into Shakespeare Club this year, and now you've made a place for her. Thank you for that."

"Thank you, Ms. Ryane."

Every time that I see Alfie on the campus or in his classroom, he throws his arms around my legs and delivers an update on his busy life.

Nine-year-old Krystal levitated when I told her the good news: "I found you a place."

Thank you, Alfie.

One reason I want to be in Shakespeare club is because it is it is awesome. I also want to be in this club is because I want to learn about William Shakesphere.

Today I learned that Willaim was 18 when he got married. Today I also learned an Indian dance. The dance is quiet freaky.
Phoebe, 5th grade

"Sad Boy" by Sammy Hernandez

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