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Are you smarter than a 4th grader?

I spent the last week in the fourth grade, subbing for a good friend of mine. I have learned more than the students.

I have learned that I can repeat myself over and over and over and over again and not give in to the urge to bring physical harm to the individuals who are incapable of listening.

I have learned that I need to get a life. That, at least, is according to one 10-year-old who dates a girl in the sixth grade and finds it ridiculous that I am not dating at this time.

I have learned — from that same young man — that I need to go on a diet because I drink too many diet sodas.

“Mr. Smith, I’m not trying to say you’re obese or anything, but don’t you think you might need to go on a diet. That’s your second Diet Coke today.”

His logic is infallible. Really. Don’t question it.

Also, I have learned that I hate the sound of my own name. Every time I lay down at night, all I hear is “Mr. Smith! Mr. Smith!”

My name is now most commonly followed with requests for the bathroom or water. Often, it precedes accusations of stolen pencils, missing books and any number of items off a laundry list of things that amounts to “I’m scared I now have coodies.”

I have learned that some fourth graders don’t really care what you tell them. I have learned that kids can begin crying seemingly out of nowhere and — as long as there is no bodily harm involved — they will quickly cease on their own if you leave them alone for a moment.

I have learned that directing fourth grade traffic all day and then attempting to go work your “real” job is unadulterated lunacy. And doing it for extended periods will drive you utterly bonkers.

Mostly, I have learned that it takes a very special kind of person to not only spend all day with 27 fourth graders, but also grow to understand them enough to be able to reach them and teach them. And Demopolis citizens should offer a little extra thanks this holiday for those who do it everyday.

Jeremy D. Smith is the sports editor of the Demopolis Times