Monday, September 20, 2010
When I was in about third grade I got a fossil. Technically I was loaned a fossil by my dad's friend George who had found it while out hiking but I loved it so much that I kept forgetting to give it back and eventually George let me keep it. The fossil was a trilobite which is a marine bug from the Cambrian period. Being a bug they are actually fairly common but to me it was as rare and valuable as a Pterodactyl wing. It had two distinct parts: the bottom which had a bumpy head attached to ribs of some sort and a top covering that came off like a puzzle piece and formed the mirror image of the ribs. I kept it in a cardboard earring box, packed in cotton with the word "fosel" written on the cover. For a while the fossil stayed at school, neatly tucked into the back corner of my desk where it was safe and protected but readily available for impressing friends.
One day, in the middle of class, a man appeared in the classroom doorway. He exchanged a few words with my teacher and then scurried over and hunched down next to my desk. He was kind of sweaty and breathing hard and I assumed that since he was allowed to interrupt the class like that he must work for the school, perhaps in a custodial capacity. In a frantic whisper he asked me if I knew what I had in the box. In a hushed voice he told me that what I had was a genuine fossil and very valuable. He was clearly just as impressed with my fossil as I was and I began to think I was in possession of something more along the lines of the Lost Ark of the Covenant rather than an ancient crawdad. Maybe I could sell it! I also remember thinking, even at that tender age, why are you going through my desk?
Anyway, I've grown up now and the fossil has stayed in its little box and each year I try and get Vaughn to take it to school for Show and Tell. Despite knowing better, I still can't shake the feeling that I am giving the class a very special gift, access to touch and hold something they wouldn't otherwise have access to. When those forms get passed around where you have to list a unique talent or skill you as a parent might be able to bring to the class it is all I can do to not write: I have a real fossil.
Vaughn has never really appreciated the fossil so each year when I say, "Why don't you bring the fossil to school?" (And honestly I really can't believe that I'm still having to hear "What fossil?") I get flimsy excuses like, "It's not show and tell day." This year I took matters into my own hands and safely bundled up the fossil and tucked it into a plastic baggy with a note to the teacher explaining what it was and that I thought the class would enjoy seeing it. I gave it to Vaughn with instructions to deliver it to his teacher which he confirmed had happened.
It's been a few days now and while I sort of hoped to get an email thanking me for giving the class a chance to really experience history (or anything along those lines- I'm just throwing ideas out there), I've let that go. What concerns me though is - why hasn't the fossil come home? Is it being saved for some special unit or something? I mean, if she's thinking she can just forget to return it for long enough and I'll let her keep it she's wrong.