Ohio takes football seriously. There is nothing more insulting than making a disparaging remark about the Buckeyes, especially if the remark comes from a Michigan fan.
Dan, wearing a maize-and-blue shirt says, “Mrs. Eberst, he spit on me.” Looking at the accused spatter and thinking this is out of character for this student, I call him over and ask what happened.
Paul, wearing scarlet and gray, proudly declares that Dan made him mad. So I ask Dan to tell me what happened. “I told him Ohio State sucked,” Dan explains, “and if he didn’t cheer for Michigan, he was stupid.”
I think to myself that if he said that to me, I would have spit on him, too, but remembering I am the adult in the room, I ask, “Can you think of words to say other than ‘suck’ or ‘stupid’ to express what you want to say?”
He gives me an annoyed, “Yes.”
“So, let me make sure I understand what happened. You said what you said and Paul spit on you?”
“Yes, sort of.”
“Sort of?” I ask. “What does that mean?”
Talking fast, Dan begins trying to explain. “I said Ohio State sucked . . . I mean, aren’t very good and that he was stu. . . not smart. Then he blew a raspberry.”
I look at Dan. “A raspberry? He didn’t spit, but blew a raspberry?” Dan glares at Paul and says, “Yes.” I point to the stacks and tell Dan to go find a library book and think about how he could have better handled this. When he walks away, I put my arm around Paul. Then in a voice of guidance and reason, I tell him, “Maybe, it’s not a good idea to blow a raspberry in someone’s face just because they insult your team. He’s wrong about the Buckeyes, though, and we both know it. No more blowing raspberries in the library. Thank you for not spitting.”
Then we give each other a high five and a hearty, “Go Bucks!”
Rhonda Willford Eberst is passionate about turning kids on to reading. Raised in Wyoming, she moved to Ohio with her husband and has been with the Reynoldsburg City Schools for twenty years. She currently serves as the Librarian and Director of the Summit STEM Living Library Museum. She is also a bestselling author, humorist, and speaker. “The Spitter” is one of many real-life conversations that will touch your heart while making you laugh out loud when reading I Survived Pompeii: Hilarious Adventures in an Elementary School Library.