Another year has passed by and I sent my lovelies off to kindergarten today. I cried during the good-bye song. I never do. 25 years and I can hold it together But this group was …. different. I cannot put my finger on it, but they were special in the way that I marveled at how smart there were. Not once did I have to say “It is not okay to lick the bathroom floor” Yes I have had to say it in years previous. I couldn’t trick these kids. They were on to me. Too smart for you Miss Tourist! It’s true, they were. I learned some cool stuff anyways. It is ALWAYS a good day when you learn something new, in this case -it was a good year because I learned 7 new things.
1) Kids don’t taste like cookies. One day I was sitting at the manipulative table talking with a young girl. We were discussing what made a nice person. We talked about being kind and helpful. I said to the child “you’re so sweet I bet if I ate you, you would taste like cookies”
The child replied, “no, I’d taste like skin”
2) Not all kids want to be teacher when they grow up. Shocking isn’t it? Around the circle we went asking what we were going to be when we grew up. I heard a Captain America, Teacher, Dad, but my favorite? A Psychologist. What 4 year old knows that? That was awesome.
3) When you live in a large family, sometimes you don’t know everyone. A mom brought a puppy to school to show the class the new family member. I asked the little boy (who was the owner of the puppy) what is your pups name? His reply with wide eyes innocence, “I HAVE A PUPPY????”
4) Four year olds know all about sarcasm. I often sit at the snack table and ask all kinds of questions. For example “what did you eat for breakfast?” The focus for me is to hear sentence length, content, vocabulary and if the child can follow the direction of the conversation. At the beginning of the year they would just look at me and blink. By June they would say “My mom made bananas and cereal. I then had cheese”. I would mess it up and pretend I didn’t hear what they were saying. So my reply would be “You had bananas, cereal and FLEAS? Is you mom crazy?” Today I knew they were ready to graduate because I received a sarcastic reply “Yes Miss Tourist I eat FLEAS for breakfast…” That was AWESOME!
5) Sometimes science experiments go very wrong and scientists never cry. We had 6 caterpillars this year and watched them change into chrysalis and then waited FOREVER to change into butterflies. Only two turned into beautiful butterflies. One had shredded wings. Two never made it to the chrysalis stage and one never came out of his chrysalis. The children decided that the butterfly with the shredded wings would be bird food. I swear to GOD that is what they said. “Poor little doody is bird food. Game over Miss Tourist” We talked about the other one that never came out, BIRD FOOD they all chimed in! Wow… practical yet heartless. No one cried.
6) No one likes food. We put a variety of fruit and veg on the table every day with the single rule of you must try. Try means touch, taste, sniff or lick. It does not mean swallow. Although swallow is what we hope for. We hear a lot of “I don’t like…” what ever is on the table and then we ask have you tried it today? Of course the answer is NO. Today we had a gift of Rainbow bread from student. I judged it just like my table companions. Only I never judge out loud. One gal said, I HATE RAINBOW BREAD it is DISGUSTING” I was inclined to agree, but we all had taste it before the ice cream celebration sundae social could begin. So we all poked it, sniffed it and then ate it. I am happy to report we did not die after swallowing it. In fact, it tasted just like White Toast. The young gal who denied liking it, divided up the Rainbow bread for her peers. She gave everyone a single piece, and 5 for herself. Apparently she didn’t hate it today.
7) I learned that this group was the very first group who really knew what it meant when you said, today is the last day. One fellow who was arguably the brightest in the class, didn’t seem to understand. He said, if today is the last day, what will happen when we get on the bus tomorrow? I explained to him, the bus won’t be coming. School is over for 64 days. Where will we go? he replied with a look of panic on his face. I held both his hands and explained again, Your mom will look after you. You don’t come back here anymore because today you are smart enough for kindergarten. He looked at me with a sad expression and said, but what happens to our school? Is it closed now for 64 days, just like the sandbox was when we put sand in our friends hair?
He walked away, and then came back to hug me. He finally understood – or perhaps he was in denial before. This was the class that cried when we group hugged, and didn’t want to run around the trees while we waited for the bus. They stood close to their teachers, held our hands and talked a lot about “remember when”.