When I grow up, I want to be in kindergarten
Glenwood Springs, CO
When the clock strikes 2:45 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday afternoon, it’s P.E. time for the kindergarten/first grade class at New Castle’s Garden School. Being their teacher, I brace myself for what could be described as the charge of the light brigade of little people. As a pent up bundle of smiles, laughter, flailing arms and legs comes my way, I know I must call upon energy resources for the next hour that it would usually take me an entire day to expend.
I think most of my time with the kindergartners is spent studying them rather than teaching them, because, you see, the average 5 or 6 year old child loves life. Plain and simple, and that’s not such a bad thing at all.
The kindergartners will run, jump, swing, slide, play any type of game that involves sticks and rocks, talk to imaginary friends, pet every dog that passes by, bury each other in the sand, and most of all, be impeccably honest at all times, “Mr. V. your teeth are really crooked!” I tell them that’s what happens when you avoid the dentist religiously as I have. “The dentist is religious?” comes the reply.
The little ones are not perfect though, afterall, they’re human-sort of. There is always the argument as to who got to the swing set first, and the tears flow from the one who was left out of the most popular game. Skinned knees and elbows come at you in droves, and there’s the occasional tooth that pops out of the mouth and is shown to me in wide-eyed amazement as I view the open space it once occupied. I’m always happy when I hear what the Tooth Fairy is handing out these days- as much as $20 in some instances. It’s good to know that the downturn in the economy hasn’t put a damper on the Tooth Fairy’s giving spirit.
The kindergartners don’t really care if they get grass stains on the knees of those new pants or mud on that winter coat. Many times it’s a miracle if you can get them to wear a coat in winter. They seem immune to the cold. What they’re not immune to is any type of candy, especially chocolate. It can cure all woes.
The little ones love animals and nature. They always want to go on a hike and climb something or go down by the river and look for bugs. We had a group wake last fall, complete with tear ducts flowing freely when a lady bug was accidentally stepped on and squashed. Again, chocolate was the only answer.
One day, a few weeks ago, I must have been a little cranky, saying no too often, and out of sorts in general with the kindergartners, which prompted one of my students, Ashlyn, to come marching up to me and state, “Mr. V. don’t you know that when words come out of your mouth, they can never go back in.”
I thanked Ashlyn, told her she was wise beyond her years, and watched as she bounded away toward the sand pit, no doubt to help build a stick house or bury one of her smiling classmates in the sand.
Another day in kindergarten P.E. and another reminder of why I choose to spend most of my waking hours around little kids, old people and animals.
I want to thank the Hispanic gentleman who stopped his car to see if I was ok after I had taken quite a tumble on a recent early morning run. A light coating of snow made it impossible to see the patch of ice that did me in as I rounded a corner near my home. Luckily, I landed squarely on my left butt cheek and not my hip or back. The sad thing is that two cars chose to pass by me as they most likely hurried to a job that they left in a hurry at the end of the day. The next passerby stopped, rolled down the window, and I heard, “Hey man, you ok?” When I turned over and got myself to a sitting position, I told him I was ok and that I had just a short walk to my house. He asked again if he could do anything before he slowly drove off, checking in the rear view mirror to see if I was getting up.
As his car became distant and I got to my feet, I smiled because I realized that even though an adult was driving the car, he must have had a kindergartner’s heart.
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