Although I teach middle school kids, there is great joy in interacting with the little ones. I’m lucky to work in a K-8 school because I have the opportunity to interact with very young children on a daily basis. If you are looking for a daily chuckle, visit a primary classroom.
When I first returned to teaching, I worked with kindergarten-aged children. I was going through a difficult time in my life, and my daily interactions with 5-year-olds provided the perfect medicine. I remember one boy in particular. He was a rough kid who struggled in school. There is still a soft-spot in my heart for him.
“Sharing” was part of our daily routine. Kids were assigned a day to be the Special Person. Each morning the class would gather in a circle on the carpet. The Person of the Day would sit in the center and share photographs, small treasures, or some days, a personal story. Shaun’s day came and he nervously sat in the center of the circle, fidgeting. He held nothing in his hands, and we asked him if he had something to share.
“Yes,” he said proudly.
We waited. We asked him to share and he popped up to stand in front of the class. We held our breath as we waited for him to do something.
“My big brother showed me this.” Shaun bared his teeth and began scissoring his jaw from side to side.
A moment of utter silence followed, and then the room erupted in joyful laughter. This was perfect five-year-old humor and it tickled the funny bone of each child in the room. They all imitated the gesture as Shaun beamed.
“That’s all,” he said, as he resumed his place in the circle. The smile on his face remained there for the rest of the morning.
More recently, I witnessed the inner workings of a young mind. I had bus duty, and as I gathered the children to wait for dismissal, I overheard a conversation between two first graders. Our school was sponsoring a food drive and the bench in the hallway was overflowing with canned goods.
One little boy turned to another boy to ask what all the cans were for. His friend replied with complete confidence.
“It’s for the dead people.”
“What?” I interjected myself into the conversation. “What do you mean?”
He rolled his eyes at me as if I was the child that needed to be taught. “We bring in food for the dead people.”
My mind instantly jumped to a scenario at the child’s home where an adult must have commented that the people who needed the food were “deadbeats.” As I explained how the food drive worked to the little boy, I was reminded how literal small children are.
Each week I am lucky enough to witness the innocence and delight that little ones bring. I look forward to kindergarten gym class each week. It happens during one of my free periods, and each time I make a point of dropping by the gym to watch two fellow teachers guide these young children through a silly game of charades. The kindergarten teacher readies her class in front of the gym teacher.
“Ready?” She asks the gym teacher. She turns to the kindergarteners. “Ok….go!’
The class instantly commences acting out the letter of the day, pretending to be a giraffe for “G,” or an elephant for “E.” The gym teacher’s job is to guess what they are portraying. Often times, I join her in the guessing, although most times, I am too busy laughing.
Lunch duty is another weekly event I look forward to. The kindergarten table is filled with children whose feet don’t reach the floor from the folding chairs they sit on. I listen as they babble, and unwrap peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Often I am called upon to settle a dispute.
“He keeps kicking me!”
“You’re not kicking her, are you?”
“Yep.” He answered with a huge grin on his face.
I struggled not to giggle as I suggested this was not his best idea.
Unintended humor, especially from children, is the best kind.