I once had a job as a substitute classroom assistant. It was a weird job.
The Job Description:
- Answer your phone at 4:45 am on the random day(s) of the week that the school scretary decides that your help is needed.
- Fill-in for a "real" classroom assistant who needs a day of for medical, personal, or OTHER reasons (see below).
- Show up on time and assist the teacher with whatever needs assisting.
- Not Enough
Most days on the job, my duties included simple tasks like helping young students bundle up for recess, dismissing students from the cafeteria after they finished lunch, or grading papers for teachers. So when I received my 4:45 am wake-up call the Thursday before Easter, I expected to be basically a glorified babysitter for the day.
I arrived at the local elementary school knowing only that I was working in a kindergarten classroom as the daily replacement for a “real” classroom assistant named Carmen. Oddly, I had not received any other details for my assignment.
I was greeted in the office by an old bald man who introduced himself as the principal. The principal stared at me for too long, then inappropriately checked me out from head to toe before creepily remarking, “You look perfect. Mrs. Smith is the kindergarten teacher, you can report to her in room 112.” Gross!
I tried to forget about Mr. Icky-old-man-principal as I ventured to Mrs. Smith’s classroom.
“Thank goodness you are here” Mrs. Smith declared. “It looks like you are the same size as Carmen, how wonderful!”
Hmmm. My appearance was receiving some weird reactions.
I asked Mrs. Smith what was on the agenda for the day and she gave me a surprised look. “Carmen didn’t leave you a list of the tasks you will need to perform?”
Before Mrs. Smith could elaborate, a chain of hand-holding kindergartners entered the room, and I started to assist them with putting their backpacks into cubbies. Mrs. Smith clapped her hands 3 times and yelled, “Good morning class! Who’s ready for today’s field trip to visit the grandmas and grandpas!?”
As the students all squealed, I gave Mrs. Smith a quizzical look. Why hadn’t anyone told me I was embarking on a field trip? What was our destination?
Mrs. Smith seemed to be avoiding eye contact with me, but I gathered from the students that the field trip was to a local nursing home. The kids told me they had spent the entire week crafting Easter decorations which would be hand delivered to the “grandmas and grandpas” living in the nursing home.
On the bus ride to the facility, Mrs. Smith hugged the giant bag of homemade crafts to her chest and sporadically glanced at me. She kept giving me a sheepish look, presumably because she had failed to inform me about the field trip?
Wrong. She had more surprises up her sleeve.
When we arrived at the nursing home, Mrs. Smith cornered me in the back of the bus as a stream of single-file students made their way towards the building. Oh good I thought, she is finally going to tell me the stupid task Carmen was supposed to do. She seems scared, it’s probably going to be a semi-strange task, but she obviously doesn’t know what I can handle.
Options I expected
- Carmen was supposed to haul Mrs. Smith’s giant bag of crafts around the nursing home. OR
- Carmen was supposed to assist the kids who needed bathroom breaks. OR
- Carmen was supposed to serve the old folks their meals. OR
- Carmen was supposed to stop kids from biting the grandmas and the grandpas.
Nope. Completely wrong. Not even close.
Without saying a word, Mrs. Smith opened her giant craft bag, which didn’t contain crafts at all, and pulled out a 6 foot Easter bunny costume donned in a ridiculous yellow vest and bow tie combo.
Carmen was supposed to be the Easter bunny.
You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
Carmen wasn’t sick, Carmen was home enjoying a day off because she knew minimum wage was not worth a day of hopping around in costume! Mr. Icky-old-man-principal knew what was up too! That jerk hadn’t been checking me out, he had been checking my size to verify that I would fit into this over-sized bunny suit! Oh, and Mrs. Smith. The audacity! Acting like this was just an ordinary day for any classroom assistant substitute!
I have to admit, Mrs. Smith did act sympathetic when she gave me the following instructions: “you will dance with the kids, take photos with the children, grandmas, and grandpas, and deliver Easter eggs at the end of our visit. Remember, it’s ONLY 4 hours.”
Well, Happy Easter to you too Mrs. Smith!
I took my costume bag, walked into the nursing home, immediately entered the bathroom and changed outfits. I checked myself out in the mirror, straightened my bow tie, and then I just stood there.
I didn’t know how to proceed.
Should I abruptly open the bathroom door, and jump out all “ta-da” style? That seemed terrifying. Should I quietly exit the bathroom and sneak up on the kids? That seemed more terrifying.
I opted to walk out of the bathroom like I was just any old ordinary Easter bunny who had entered the bathroom unnoticed, gone about his regular business, and was now exiting. Like, “hey you didn’t just see me enter the bathroom? That figures. I’m just your average vest wearing bunny, I’m not surprised you missed me.”
Surprisingly, this worked. I walked around for nearly 10 full minutes before the first kid noticed me and delightfully screamed “IT’S THE EASTER BUNNY” for all to hear (besides the hearing impaired grandmas and grandpas, of course).
Let me tell you, my presence changed the mood of the party! Initially, the kids had been shy around the elderly folks, and the elderly folks chose to sit quietly and wait for their brunch instead of interacting with the kids. Enter the Easter bunny (that’s me), and there was a lot more action and much happier folks.
Normally, I’m a shy and reserved person, but apparently when you put me in costume I’m completely comfortable actin’- a-fool. There were at least 200 people in the nursing home dining room and I strutted, hopped, skipped and waved as I high-fived nearly everyone in attendance.
The next 4 hours went by in a blur. I delivered candy filled Easter eggs, I ironically did the chicken dance, and I violently shook my head “yes” and “no” all day because Easter bunnies can’t talk. I know for sure that I danced the limbo and was knocked out in the last round due to the extra forgotten-about height of my bunny ears. I also know that in addition to 30 children, at least 2 elderly folks sat on my lap to have their Easter photos taken.
I scared 3 children, thanks to a mild wardrobe malfunction which resulted in my ponytail sticking out the back of my head. The kids saw my hair, and one yelled “THERE IS A GIRL INSIDE OF YOU” and the group ran away whenever I got close the rest of the day.
Overall, the day was actually fun. None of the kids knew who the sweaty-matted-hair lady was on the bus ride home (me), and Mrs. Smith thanked me profusely. I only worked as a substitute classroom assistant for one year, but I still think about the job every year around Easter time.
I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!
More from living