A couple weeks after starting kindergarten, my son shared with me his affection for one of his school table-mates. A private boy, like his father, Nikolas told me about her only after I was sworn to secrecy—this would become an Eickhoff family secret.
I was privately pleased with my discerning son. Nikolas had his sights set on "Heather," and from what I observed from volunteering in his class, she was not only cute-as-a-button, she was one of the most well behaved and smartest kids in his class. Heather was the kind of girl who would never be put on "yellow."
Nik's teacher used the image of a traffic light to handle discipline problems in class. All students started the day on "green," but if they had to be reprimanded several times, they had to move their handprint to "yellow," and on the very rare occasion, the dreaded "red."
The system worked well and by their return from winter break, yellow sightings were an uncommon occurrence.
As the year progressed, Nik's teacher found it necessary to move the children around, rearranging seating assignments to maximize learning and separate misbehaving cohorts. Nik gradually moved farther and farther from heavenly Heather, until he ended up at a table with "Amy."
On a cynical day I would tell you that Amy was the anti-Heather—a girl who had seen yellow as much as any other student in class. She was bossy, talkative, with a little naughty thrown in. My frequent trips into the classroom provided my opportunity to cherish each student, but Amy was one of the few who could occasionally get under my skin with her behavior.1