The instructions: Choose two of your favorite children’s books. Arrive at school on this day at this time. Check-in at the school office. Walk down the hall to the appointed room. Knock on the door three times. Wait until a little person answers.
The task: I had been signed up to be the Mystery Reader for Simone’s class. Each week a new parent would knock on the door and read to the class. I wanted to make a good impression and read something diverse and fun. I picked My Name is Celia for my diversity and fun read and Olivia … And the Missing Toy for my plain old fun read.
The result: I walked inside the classroom and wasn’t sure what to say or do. The children immediately started to guess who I belonged to. Was it the black girl over there? She shook her head. Was it the black girl over there? Nope. She had an expression painted on her face that seem to say: Look, I’ve never seen this lady in my life.
I stood at the door for what seemed like forever, before the teacher called the students to the reading section. There were two rocking chairs and a rug. I took a seat in the big rocking chair, and Simone took a seat in the small rocking chair. I had been claimed. I was Simone’s Mom. Mystery over.
We had a blast. They asked a whole bunch of questions, more questions than most adults ask all day. They rolled on the floor when I mimicked a baby in the Olivia book and said ,”woo-she-ga-ga.” Say it again, they demanded. Each time I did the class fell out laughing.
The thoughts: At first didn’t know what to make of the little game the kids had played. Then I remembered when my mom would show up on the playground, all of my friends would try to figure out who was in trouble. (Back in those days, parents didn’t show up at the playground, unless someone was in trouble.) The kids in Simone’s classroom were curious and maybe a little confused. I asked Simone what she thought of me being the Mystery Reader. What I really wanted to know was if any of the kids had asked her about me.
“It was fun,” she said. I had to agree. “I had a ball.”