Last year, I made a big deal out of turning thirty – not because I was upset to be growing older, but because I was absolutely thrilled.
And now that I’m officially in my thirties as of last week, I’m waiting for all the awesomeness that I’ve anticipated to arrive. The wrinkles. The age spots. The air of wisdom circulating around me.
But apparently I’m going to have to wait a little longer.
Today, I was mistaken for a student. Again.
But this time? It was while I was teaching.
Now, I’ll take partial responsibility for this one. It’s not like I can control the genes that seem to have paused my aging somewhere in my early 20s, but I can control how I choose to present the bundle of cells that I call a body.
But, erm, I choose not to present them like a stereotypical teacher. Because I’m not Miss Grundy or Ms. Krabbaple. I’m just me: a person who happens to be a teacher. So I have platinum blond hair. And a funky hair cut. And a visible tattoo.
That said, I normally dress professionally. I have a closet full of business casual dresses that I’ll wear on any given day.
But today wasn’t any day. It was Friday.
So I wore jeans.
And a t-shirt.
And, when I was standing next to a student’s desk, helping them with their work, an unfamiliar head popped in my classroom’s open door. Then it disappeared.
Then, two heads popped forward, Three Stooges style. Waiting for the third stooge – or maybe for an explanation as to what they needed – I paused in my teaching. I cocked my head. I waited for the floating heads to speak.
So, I took the lead. “Can I help you with something?”
One of the heads became attached to a body as the student stepped forward, nearly walking into my classroom.
My class had gone quiet, probably waiting for whatever announcement these kids were bringing from Student Council, or a club, or wherever. And, as the student prepared to walk into my class, I got my answer. And I was not prepared for it. “Is your teacher gone?”
It took me a beat to process this. I mean, the kid was talking to me.
Then, I laughed. I raised my hand to answer the question. “I am the teacher,” I said, punctuating this fact by pointing at myself.
The kids mumbled something that I think may have been swearing and bolted.
“Well,” I said with a shake of my head, “I clearly shouldn’t have worn a t-shirt today.”
But as hilarious as this was, and as self-deprecating as I can be about it, something awesome happened too. My class – most of whom I’ve known for only two weeks – took to comforting me. To reassuring me that looking young isn’t a bad thing. To making sure that I wasn’t feeling awkward.
And I wasn’t.
But this will still be the last time that I wear jeans and a t-shirt to work for a while. Until those wrinkles and age spots appear, at least.