I used to think that the most interesting minds were adult ones. More experiences + more language = more valuable things to say, right?
I was wrong.
The antidote to a frustrating day with the class is to also have lots of positive moments. (Unless the day ends badly, from which one can never recover. Never.) Overall, it’s mathematically neutral…but spiritually, I think the positive interactions lift the soul more than the momentary frustrations bring it down.
At lunchtime, I walk around and sit at each table for a few minutes. Upon my arrival at a table, all goes quiet…I’m scrutinized by searching child eyes. Did we do something wrong? Does someone need food opened? Is it time to clean up? Why is she here?
When it’s decided that I’m not a threat, I become the center of attention. “Why are you looking at us?” “Were you ever a baby?” “Can you open this?” “Do you have kids?” “How old are you?” “Do you have a cat?” “When is it recess time?” (Because, yes, maybe, no, 23, yes, soon)
Someone kicks a chair, and I exclaim, “Apologize to Madame Chaise! She doesn’t like being kicked.” The room dissolves into giggles. “Why are you being so silly, Anne?” says the child.
“I know I’m a little bit sick, Anne…I have a lot of bless-yous.”
“Anne, he called my food gross!” “Apologize to her food please! You hurt its feelings.” [cue giggles]
“Anne!! Anne!! I can’t find my water bottle!” “It’s under your arm, silly!” [giggles]
I may not be convincing you that my time in the classroom is so interesting by means of these mundane little snippets. But, what I am quickly learning is that there is nothing mundane about kids. The mundane is not even mundane. The garbage truck is the biggest event of the afternoon. The fire drill once a month is traumatic. Creating 6 identical plastic egg characters is the funnest thing they’ve done all day. Cutting paper in zig-zags is summiting Mt. Everest.
They are full of joy and imagination. I probably won’t ever forget the first self-portrait lesson, where one little guy looked up at me with a face of pure glee, held out his drawing, and whispered “I love it!”
Do you remember when you couldn’t read or write? I can’t. For all I know, I popped out with perfect handwriting, able to read all of Nancy Drew in a week. It’s fascinating to go back to K, where they learn the alphabet, and how to count to 20, and see how I learned it. And we don’t just teach that…we teach behavior. Respect. Listening. Self-regulation. Self-discipline. Self-expression. All of the fundamental parts of a person are there for the cultivating.
It just kills me when people don’t think of children as people. They are all of us…uncensored. Talk to them, you’ll see.