I arrived early and Dave showed me the routine. The class went like any other. The kids were well behaved and enthusiastic. Dave took the lead while I attempted to lead by example and then afterwards we took them for pizza.
I was eating pizza with one of the girls when she informed me that if she were to rob the pizza place she’d start by shooting the lights out. I took a moment to process this information before suggesting – “that might not be such a good idea”. “Why?” she enquired, her interest suddenly piqued under the misguided impression I was about to trade heist strategies. “Because you’ll go to jail” – I replied. She looked disappointed. “My dad’s in jail” said the other small child to my right. I nodded and shovelled more pizza into my mouth – feeling profoundly unequipped to handle the situation.
As they were getting on the bus – one of the boys gave me a ring he’d made for me out of rubber bands. I put it on, complimenting him on his craftsmanship. He smiled shyly and boarded the bus. They seemed sweet yet jaded, like life was already sapping them of their childhood innocence. I considered this as the bus pulled away, Dave and I standing on the pavement-waving goodbye as the daytime foot traffic diverted around us.
It was a beautiful spring day in New York City and Dave was headed to a family fun day at his old school in Chinatown where he’d not only attended but taught at as an adult. He promised dancing and food – a winning combination.