One of my students stayed after class the other day to talk to me. No smile. Just clear blue eyes staring straight into mine.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you this,” he said, his fourth grade voice small and somber.
My stomach sort of squished together, wondering what question could possibly cause such a serious tone.
“What?” I asked, bracing myself. “What’s wrong?”
He spoke clearly, without hesitation. “Why do you say ‘y’all’ all the time? What does it mean?”
“Y’all? Did you say…y’all?”
“Oh. Well. It means, ‘You all, of course. All of you. Everyone’.” I felt my southern roots twine deep around me, taking me back to magnolia blossoms on the kitchen counter and nests of honeysuckle vines, locusts calling through the sticky heat of the day and giant popping thunderstorms. Reminding me of things I hadn’t thought about in a while.
My student’s response: “Okay. I get it. Thanks.”
A small blip of an interaction. But powerful enough to pull me back in an instant to the bigness of my small southern town. Images that are part of who I am. Definitely something to think about as I write.