Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mr. Tights Is Not A Frog

Call me Mr. Tights, all of my son's classmates do.

When I was in first grade, my mother made me wear white tights to school. Being a boy, I didn't want to wear tights, especially my older sister's hand-me-downs. One night I protested a little too much, and my mother sent me to bed with a warning that I would feel differently come the morning. I woke up the next day with a green dot on my ankle, the result of my mother having "cast a spell" on me as I slept. She told me that if I refused to wear the tights, the dot would spread over my body and I would become a frog.

I wore the damn tights.

It's a funny story (now), and I am using it and other childhood stories as the inspiration for a book that I am writing for 10-11 year olds. The book will be about a red-eared boy named Randolph, and while inspired by on my own childhood, there will be a measure of creative license included. I read the first chapter (about the frog that never was) to my son's fourth grade class a couple of weeks ago. To my great joy, they loved every word of it.

And immediately took to calling me Mr. Tights.

Which brings me to this morning. I spent it at the elementary school, assisting with the third and fourth grade Field Day. I decided to wear my kilt, because we live at 6500 feet, and so I think that Field Day can be looked on as a sort of Scottish Highland Games.

The kids had more than a few questions about why I was wearing a skirt, but they forgot all about it as soon as the events began. We had a great time out in the sun, playing a number of games and eating freezer pops.

After the games, we headed inside. Along the way, a bunch of the kids stopped in the hall to sip from the water fountain. They lined up, and I stood by to wait for them. One of the girls stood in line beside her father, who had also come to help with Field Day. She pointed at me.

"He wore tights when he was a boy. He told us a funny story about it," she said.

Another student chimed in, "Not just tights, but his sister's hand-me-down tights."

I stood there in my kilt, feeling my ears grow a little red.

"His mother did some weird things to him when he was a kid," added a third student.

"That's why we call him Mr. Tights," the girl concluded.

I smiled and said, "You tell these kids one little story about your childhood..."

Her father laughed politely. He looked as uncomfortable as I had in first grade, wearing my sister's tights. Had he been offered a hole to jump into, he probably would have taken it.

I looked at the kids and asked, why didn't you call me Mr. Frog?"

One of them laughed and said, "You didn't turn into a frog, because you wore the tights!"

Their sips of water finished and the point taken, we walked back to the classroom.

I think I'm going to like being called Mr. Tights.

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