I am so glad there are children here.
One might think, given that I am an instructor at a private school in Memphis, that I might appreciate the chance for some peace and quiet. I thought so too, for the first month of my sabbatical. I even told my students, gleefully I might add, that I was so happy to not have to grade any more tests for a while.
Of course my Padawan learners just laughed at me.
However, it took all of that month to make me realize that I was incredibly bored, without my students around me. After being a Jedi Master for 400 or 500 years, being without my Padawan learners makes life dull.
There are four children here, all around 11 years old, same as some of my Padawan learners. They call me “Jedi Master” (except for one, who settled on “Jiminy Cricket”), and nodded when I told them my age. They are very serious children, very courteous. When they found out I taught English and Literature, I was quizzed on the books I have read.
For some reason, they focused on Alice in Wonderland. Because they were such a captive audience, I ended up talking about the way language is used in the book. For example, when Lewis Carroll talks about the Cheshire Cat standing on his head, what do we usually think of? That’s right, that he is upside-down on his head. (Excuse me for lecturing).
However, in Alice in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat takes off his head and stands on it. The words are exactly the same, but the action is literal. All the while I was lecturing, those four children sat there and listened to me without interrupting. No grade worries or demerits to make them listen, just their own interest and politeness.
When I finished, they thanked me just as seriously. And then the one who feels the oldest, Eoin (it is pronounced Owen, like the Welsh Owen), asked me if I remembered the tea party. I said that I did. And then Eoin said, “You are invited to tea, and tea is always at 4.” I asked, just as seriously, whose unbirthday it was today. “Yours, because you just arrived,” Eoin said. So I accepted the invitation to my own unbirthday party.
As I walked down to the dining room (which is the entire floor, except for the kitchen and some small rooms for people with pets), I wondered what the tea party would look like. The tables are large trestles, made for feeding a round of hungry farm hands. Would we be moving one place up every time we were done with one drink, like in Alice and Wonderland? Or would we sit at one place like civilized people?
It turns out, we sat at one place like civilized people. The children actually explained that they considered the tea party Mad Hatter-and-March Hare style, but there would be too many dishes to wash. I completely agreed with them. 500 years old is too lofty an age to be reduced to dish-washing.
At the end of the day, I am glad there are children here. I think I was really meant to be a Jedi Master.