One of my favorite fifth grade memories from last year:It was an easy mission. Or so I thought. I sent a capable child. Or so I thought. All he had to do was walk outside to the next building, knock on the door of Room 16, introduce himself, ask for the ball of yarn, and retrace his steps back to the classroom. He can be a antsy kid and the change of scenery would be good for him. Expected elapsed time would be no more than 3 or 4 minutes. Or so I thought.
He left at 1:37. Five minutes later, still no courier. I reasoned that he must have stopped in the boys' room on his return trip and silently prayed that the ball of yarn wasn't set on the floor while he conducted his affairs. 1:47 and concern starts to rise. I am about to send out a few reconnaisance scouts when there's a knock at the door. He's back. I'm relieved. I hate losing kids.
I notice he lingers in the doorway. I also notice he is empty-handed. "Do you have the yarn?" "No." I made what I thought was a logical assumption, "So Mrs. Ross wasn't in her room?" He fidgets, "Yes, she was." "But she didn't have the yarn afterall?" I questioned. "She gave me the yarn," replies the door-lingerer. "Great, so where's the yarn now?" "I don't have it," murmurs the empty-handed one as he restates the obvious. "You had it, but now you don't? Then what happened to it?" "It's gone." So we have clearly established that the yarn is missing, but the mystery remains unresolved.
I dig a little deeper, "Do you know where it is?" "Yes." "Are you going to tell me where it is?" "Only if I have to." "You do." "Okay, sondaroo," he slurs softly. "It's where?" "ifrooitondaroo," he blurts out unintelligibly. I visually survey my class to see if anyone has managed to decipher this alien language. No such luck. I'm on my own.
I'm good at deciphering. For instance, I know that the phrase 'da mill key way gal luck see' translates into 'the Milky Way Galaxy". That 'da braid heap hunch' is really 'The Brady Bunch'. Surely I can figure out what 'ifrooitondaroo' means. I run it through my brain and roll it over my tongue a few times, subtly changing the syllabication with each attempt. On the fourth try, I've got it!
"You threw it on the roof?" A sheepish nod leads into a confession, "But-it-wasn't-really-my-fault-I-was-throwing-it-up-in-the-air-while-I-was-walking-I-kept-throwing-it-higher-and-higher-and-then-the-last-time-I-threw-it-a-big-gust-of-wind-came-and-it-never-came-back-down." He pauses to catch his breath, "I think it's on the roof."
Fortunately there is a back-up ball of yarn waiting to be borrowed in Room 37. I scan the eager volunteers and this time I choose the least athletic child in the bunch.