Junior Achievement put me back into an elementary school classroom for one morning a week in the banking years. JA is a wonderful program that partners with the business community, stocking local schools with volunteers, offering real world business experience to every grade level. For several years I headed east, into the more challenging schools, to spend my morning with witty children, some eager to learn and some eager to take a break from their usual morning routine. I'm certain I was supposed to come away from this experience with a renewed purpose, a profound sense of my role in the community and a illuminated view of life in an inner city school. Right, got that, but so much more, a respect for very silly children in days when I just didn't spend enough time with anyone under the age of 20.Generally I opted for the first and second grade, programming geared towards neighborhoods and families. One day the curriculum had us discussing home and what that meant to the children. With a stern head jerk I was reprimanded by the teacher, not all these children live in a traditional home, some live with their grandparents, some with foster parents and some in shelters. She was new, JA and I were prepared, we'd done this before. What followed was a really beautiful discussion about what makes a home, and not one child required a yard or a plasma television or granite counter tops. Although one little boy hoped that one day his mom could get a car so he could stop taking the bus everywhere, it was cold and being a bus rider myself, I sympathized.
In another class we did a project differentiating between needs and wants. "Who can give me an example of a need?", shoes and housing, yes, microwave popcorn, no. "And now a want, what is something we want?", the list was long, and funny, and then Michael, from the back of the room shouted "A husband, she wants a husband!". Uproarious laughter amongst the seven year old crowd, a smirky smile from me, "No, she NEEDS a husband", this time from the front of the class, and a girl no less. Clarification on my part, you are correct, I am not married but I do not want or need a husband, thank you. "Now, something I do want, a vacation", and again from Michael, "she means a honeymoon!", and with that I lost complete control, probably because I was now laughing as hard as they were.
When I got back to the office I stopped in to visit with a co-worker, someone who also volunteered with JA, knowing he would find this scenario hilarious, and he did. And then two years later I married him, and we went on a honeymoon, and while I didn't really need him, I did find that life was more pleasant when he was around, just as a want should be.