Today I had a wonderful opportunity to reconnect again with my professional roots. Most of you know I’ve been teacher forever, and the early years of childhood have fascinated me the most. Very young children are great little organizers. Tiny babies start their post-womb life as little more than garden slugs, or as one of my daughters hilariously says “Noisy little pillows”. Over the course of a single year, these flat-on-your-back little lives leap into communication, standing, walking, and sometimes even little sentences commanding anyone within earshot to produce another cookie.
One of my outstanding staff got caught in the Texas ice storms, so had to sleep at the gate instead of flying back to warmer Colorado. When things like this come up, I gladly step into the position of ‘floater staff’ and circulate around providing break time, and other necessary finger-in-the-dike services. I gave morning breaks, circulating around to each classroom, so the teachers can grab a snack, go potty, and basically take a breath.
When I got to the PreK room, there was the usual bustle of ‘center play’. Center play happens after the start of the day, ‘circle time’ routines, and mid morning snack. Center play is basically controlled mayhem, where kids can pick from self-directed art projects, building blocks, the reading area, or dress-up play. It’s fascinating to watch, as it is an exercise in four and five year old kids organizing their world.
We have one large carpeted area that we use for large motor play. The teacher, in this case me, calls out what activity is OK on the carpet for ten minutes.
“This is now the SOMERSAULT AREA for TEN MINUTES! You can only be on this carpet of you are doing SOMERSAULTS!” Somersaulting children abounded. Except for Raymond. Ray thought it would be a good idea to get the yo-yo from the dress up area and start swinging it around like a ball on a chain.
“Ray! Think that through! That might hurt someone doing a somersault!” Abashedly, Ray put the yo-yo back where it belonged. Desmond snatched the Lego airplane Tyler had been building out of Tyler’s hand. Tyler burst into tears.
“Miss Victoria! Tyler said I could play with this for TEN MINUTES!”
“Des, I’ve been beside Tyler this whole time! He said no such thing! How do we take turns? ” Shamefacedly, Desmond turned to Tyler “May we please share?”
Lastly, as I was preparing to leave to the next classroom, Mitch bounced up to me. “Miss Victoria ” Mitch whispered, I bent low. “Yes, Mitch? ” I whispered back. “I have something to tell you” he whispered again.
Oh my, I thought, this must be important. I picked Mitch up, and held him close to my ear. He covered his mouth with his hands, so no one else could hear. “One time I got a wasp bite!” he whispered.
“Really! That must have been very painful! ” I whispered, puzzled.
“Yes! And I got a BIG BUMP! RIGHT HERE!” he whispered indignantly, pointing to his lip.
“My goodness Mitch! That’s quite a thing!” He nodded solemnly, and started coloring his “R” paper with his red marker.
I left the classroom, and chuckled at the innocent insanity of a five year old. Visitors, it seems like we live in a truly bonkers time. Grown adults actually think it’s ok to try and prevent someone else from speaking their mind. Actual scientists are censored from sharing life-saving COVID treatments on social media. Cries of “Racism!” are abounding everywhere, even in, of all things, the Math classroom. Sometimes, I despair of otherwise thinking adults in this wonderful country of having lost their minds.
It’s a joyful thing to me to help little people find theirs. It actually didn’t occur to Ray to think he might hurt someone with his yo-yo until I pointed it out. Desmond got an insight into the immovability of truth when I called him out on lying, And darling Mitch, well, Mitch just got validation that being weird is OK. He can go through his life whispering to everyone, and maybe the vote I gave him today for non-conformity will take root somewhere in that little psyche, and he’ll do what he knows to be true, and OK, even when everyone else around him is losing their minds.