“Hi, I’m Jolyn, and I’m 24 years old.”

I try to arrive at sub jobs early, since it’s difficult to navigate foreign hallways crowded with pushy natives, but as I walked through the congested early-morning halls of Spring Creek High the other day, a thought occured to me: almost everyone here is taller than me.

My mom stands 5’5″, my older sister is 5’5 1/2″, and I’m 5′ 4 3/4″.  We make a very uniform Christmas card, and the contents of our 3 closets are so interchangeable it’s creepy.  Well, they don’t raid my wardrobe too much – we live in 3 different states, and I regularly wear jeans I bought when I was 19.  I had a pair of elastic-band cotton shorts my parents bought me for fifth grade track team practice that I wore until college.  They weren’t worn out (I used them for pj’s), but saying, “I’ve had these since I was nine,” was somewhat less cool than “I wear the same size as I did junior year.”

My very first sub job ever was for high school P.E.  I stood in the gym, clipboard and roll sheet in hand, as a student walked up to me and asked, “Where’s our teacher?”

“You’re looking at her,” I replied.  “Now take your hat off, spit out your gum, and get in line.”

Last week I taught special ed at a high school.  I needed to speak with another teacher, so I waited in her doorway while she finished a conversation with the vice principal.  I asked my quick question then headed down the hallway and back to my classroom.

“Thank you for waiting so patiently while the BIG PEOPLE finished talking,” the vice principal, a big, beefy male, said to me with an exaggerated grin and extra emphasis.  I smiled and laughed awkwardly.

“Oh, wait – you’re not a student, are you?” he asked, his face turning red.

I smiled and said, “No, I’m a new sub.”  I didn’t want him to feel bad, but this was the second time he’d mistaken me for a student.  Figure it out already!

Yesterday I walked with my first class to a nearby Head Start program, where the students were to spend half an hour helping the toddlers eat breakfast and dance the Hokey Pokey.  While the little guys ate biscuits and jam, a group of my students played catch with a soft football.

“Guys, take it easy.  We’re indoors,” I admonished when the Nerf game started to threaten the miniblinds.

“Oh, I thought you were a student!” a Head Start teacher said in surprise.

I smiled thinly.  They were eighth graders.

I’m commonly mistaken for a high school senior and asked about my college plans.  I put on my best grown-up smile and tell my questioner that I graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture Business 3 years ago.  Their surprised look is fun, and I know I’ll appreciate my youthful appearance when I’m 40.  In the meantime, maybe I can get the under-12 discount at the movie theater.

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