First Day of School
Claylan winced as a Mynci in a yellow dress pinched his cheeks and gushed on and on about how adorable he was in his little costume.
He was dressed in a sharp black suit with a little black bow tie, and a matching top hat sat there on his head. A well groomed mustache adorned his little round face, curled at the ends in what he was sure was an gentlemanly fashion. He completed the look with a monocle he didn't really need, but he wanted to look professional!
As the Mynci giggled and walked away, Claylan frowned and shook his head. It was going to be one of those days. The first day of school was always like this—he should have expected as much.
He made his way down the hall, past and through the feet of Neopians so much larger than himself.
“Excuse me, coming through! Little guy on the move!” He called those words out as he went, not wanting to be a flattened little larvae by the time he made it to his classroom. “Whoa, Mr. Elephante, watch where you're going!” It was a near miss as the bright yellow Elephante thundered by, not having heard his small voice.
When he reached his class, he breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the crowd and pushed past the door. Inside were a variety of young Neopians who needed an education, and that was just what he planned to give them.
However, his students appeared to be more interested in chatting with one another and tossing paper balls around than learning. He expected that—nothing new on a first day of school!
He wheeled a stool toward the white board behind his desk and hopped onto it. After choosing a bright red marker, he grabbed it between his teeth and very carefully wrote his name on the board.
As expected, the class grew quiet aside from a few curious murmurs. He dropped the marker into a pencil holder, then spun toward the class.
“Hello class! My name is Professor Claylan.”
Though he wasn't at all surprised when the class burst into laughter, it stung as bad as it always did. He tried not to let it show, choosing instead to hold his head high and do his job properly.
“You're gonna get in trouble if the teacher catches you in his seat!” It was the bright yellow Elephante from earlier.
“He won't get into trouble!” The Mynci who had pinched his cheeks piped up. “Look how cute he is—no one can be mad at that face. He's just a sweet little baby.”
If he had hands to facepalm with, he would have done it right about then. He hopped down from the stool, pushed it to his desk, then jumped up a second time.
“I assure you, miss, I'm the smartest baby you've ever met!” He spoke with confidence. “Don't let my age fool you, I'm more than qualified to give you the education you deserve.”
The students shifted uncomfortably and glanced back and forth between him and each other. It seemed they weren't entirely sure if he was being honest, but at least they weren't laughing anymore.
“I'll need a volunteer to pick up the paper that's been tossed around my class.” He looked around. “A clean learning environment is a healthy one!”
When the Mynci tentatively raised her hand, he nodded. As she moved about to pick up the small wads of paper, he smiled.
“I'll need another to help me pass out a little quiz for everyone.”
“A quiz, already?!” A sullen looking Lupe in the back grumbled. “But it's our first day!”
“Yes, yes, I know, it's a tragedy! A farce!” Claylan laughed quietly. “But it let's me know where to start teaching, tells me what you know and what you don't. So why don't you come up and pass these around?”
The Lupe rose from his chair and trudged forward, dragging his feet. At long last he picked up the small stack of papers from the desk and took his time passing them out to the other students.
Everyone was looking at him expectantly now—some waiting for the test, while others seemed to be awaiting the punchline to whatever joke this was.
“All right, begin.”
It took a few moments for it to sink in that this was no joke, that their teacher was actually a Baby Buzz. Finally, the class took up their pencils and went to work.
A few minutes later, it was the Lupe in the back who raised his hand.
“Yes?” Claylan rose up a little higher to see him better.
“It seems a little silly that a baby is giving us a spelling test?” He snorted. “Do you even know your ABCs yet?”
This wasn't the first time he'd been challenged in a classroom because of his baby status. He knew how to handle this.
“Why don't you find a dictionary and pick out a word for me to spell.” He hopped up onto his desk then to better see the class. “If I get it wrong, no homework for a month. However, if I get it right, you have to take your quiz without complaint. Deal?”
“No homework for a month?” The Lupe's ears perked up, and suddenly the entire class was interested in the conversation. “You got yourself a deal!”
Claylan watched as the Lupe darted toward a bookshelf to his right and grabbed a dictionary. The class was silent as the Lupe flipped through the pages, no doubt looking for the most impossible word he could find.
“Here's one! Cre—Crep--” He frowned as he struggled to sound out the word. “Crepus—I don't know how to say this.”
“What does it mean? Read the definition.”
“It means...” The Lupe frowned as he looked back down at the dictionary. “It means that something is active just before dusk or right after dawn.”
The entire class shifted their heads toward the Lupe then as though he was the only one who could confirm whether that answer was right or not.
Slowly the Lupe nodded, but wore a sly grin on his face. It looked as though he thought he'd gotten the best of his little teacher. It was a hard word, after all.
“Crepuscular.” Claylan spoke in his best 'spelling bee' voice. “C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-A-R. Crepuscular.”
Once more the class looked between Claylan and the Lupe, while the Lupe just stared at him with a gaping expression.
The class then erupted into giggles, but they quickly faded when the realization that there would, in fact, be homework this month.
Even so, everyone in the class bent their heads and went to work. No one complained or grumbled, and by the time they were done, they seemed to accept that their new teacher was a baby Buzz.
Later as he graded the quizzes, he made a show of bragging on how well they'd done. There were a few wrong answers of course, but he preferred to focus on the positive side of things. He wanted them to want to do well, and pointing out every wrong answer didn't seem like a good way to go about that.
It was months later when the young Lupe stood at a podium, looking like a bundle of nerves. Claylan smiled reassuringly and nodded to let his student know he had the utmost confidence in him.
No one cheered as hard or as loud as Claylan when the Lupe won with the word 'crepuscular'.