Remember your days in science class? You know, when we learn that something falls at a speed of 32 feet per second, squared? Or, when you learned about the theory of relativity?

This takes me back a few years to my tiny daughter, in her first week of kindergarten at Codrington School.

“Mummy,” she wailed, at the end of her first day of her second week. “You’ve got to NOT TIE my little bag of raisins so tight. I can’t get the bag open. I can’t eat my raisins.”

Clearly lunch hour was giving her a challenge.

We walked a little farther. “How did you get your raisins open today?” I wondered.

“I asked an old man to open it for me.”

“Where was the old man?” I asked. Where would an old man be at her school, I wondered.

“Oh, he was in the schoolyard. He undid my raisins for me,” she proffered.

I let this settle in as we walked further, home. Why would an old man be in the school yard?
I went back to my desk when we arrived home and started in on some work. I wonder if the school knows there’s an old man lurking in the yard? The issue nagged me. I tried to shrug it off. Heavens, this is Barrie, what am I worrying about?

And Donna, how would you feel if you found out a child came to harm because there was a stranger lurking in the schoolyard and you didn’t tell anyone about it. Will the school think I’m nuts if I call? Will they laugh about me in the staff room?

I picked up the receiver. Codrington’s kindly secretary, Pauline Fleming, was pleasant as always. I broached the subject: “Pauline... I’m reluctant to make this call, but I feel worried about something. It’s maybe nothing, but in case it’s something I thought maybe you’d want to know...” thus went my longwinded introduction.

Now Pauline has a gift of making everyone feel absolutely legitimate. She asked some questions; she expressed concern about a possible “lurker” in the schoolyard and said she’d check things out and call me back.

Next day, while my wee one was at school, Pauline reached me at home. She’d done some research and found the identity of the “old man” in the school yard who admitted to helping Emily undo her tightly knotted bag of raisins.

“Not to worry,” she assured me. “There was someone, but he’s on our staff, and he remembers the raisins, so there’s no-one lurking about.”

Who was it? I queried.

“It’s our newest teacher. Tim Swain. Just fresh from his university teaching degree. Age 24.” I could hear Pauline’s smile through the phone. “It’s all relative, isn’t it?”

And that is the theory of relativity between a 5 and a 24 year old.

The “old man” went on to teach my kids, and he always treated Emily with good grace. Likely, he’s never aged so quickly in his life until his first week on the job!

Thanks, Tim. Thanks, Pauline. Thanks, Emily.

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