My mission was to ensure that 22 kindergarteners were alive at the end of a 20 minute lunch and a 15 minute recess. I thought to myself, “How hard could it be?”
I was greeted with the words, “Teacher! Teacher! Could you throw this away for me?” The boy with the runny nose had stripped the ketchup covered cornbread from his corn dog, rolled it up and then squished the whole thing in his hand. He handed me the sloppy mess by pretending he was dropping a bomb in my hand, complete with sound effects. The remaining hot dog on a stick became a gun.
2 adorable little girls dressed in full Gymboree ensembles complete with coordinating pony tail holders came up to me grabbing themselves and jumping around. “Teacher! Teacher! Can we go to the bathroom? We really have to go bad! We really do!”
As I gave the two girls a pass to the bathroom, they hugged each other and ran off giggling loudly. Another little girl shook her head. “Teacher, teacher…..you shouldn’t have done that. They aren’t allowed to go potty together. One day they went to the potty all the way at the other end of the school. They had tipped over the garbage cans, climbed up on the sinks and then climbed up on to the tops of the stalls. A 5th grade teacher found them when her class was disturbed by the girls singing songs from High School Musical too loudly."
“Teacher! Teacher!” pleaded a well groomed boy wearing dress pants and a belted in polo shirt. “Do you know that there are 357 kinds of lizards in the Peruvian understory alone? And that’s just the ones we know about? Would you like to see a lizard, teacher? I’ve got one in my pocket I can show you.”
In 20 minutes I tied 9 shoes, opened 14 fruit snack packages, wiped up milk from 4 tipped over cartons, broke up 13 scuffles of children who were “just messing around”, picked up 3 children off the floor who had fallen off their chairs after “just messing around”, and listened to 19 tattletale stories from 2 little girls who assured me they knew all the rules and would help me out. I learned that ¾ of all kindergarteners trade portions of their lunch with their friends. I learned that ¼ of all kindergarteners throw portions of their lunch at their friends. I found out that one boy’s mommy didn’t like his daddy’s new “pretty lady” friend. I listened as one teary eyed boy wondered who he would go fishing with since his grandpa had died last week. I marveled at the boy who shared with me the most efficient ways of killing in the M rated, first person shooter game Halo.
As we left for recess, in an effort to control the chaos, the children were supposed to line up boy, girl, boy, girl. Given the fact that there were 14 boys and 8 girls this proved most difficult. Plus, one of the girls was bouncing around so much she qualified to be placed in the rowdy boy category. Before we left the lunchroom for the playground I counted to make sure I had all 22 children. I had 17. I counted again. 19. I counted again. 18. If those “lively and spirited” children would have just stopped moving around so much it would have made counting so much easier. I finally determined I had 20 children in the dynamic and malleable “line”. The two potty girls were missing. As we waited for the two potty girls to return, two imaginative and very wiggly boys decided that the reason the girls were taking so long in the bathroom was that they were going poopy.
And with the utterance of that one word, “poopy”, what little semblance of tenuous control I feigned to have disappeared completely. They would say the word “poopy” and then giggle uncontrollably. As we marched down the hall to the playground the children began chanting, “We are on a poopy parade!” As our line stretched out to an unimaginable length, I learned that it is physically impossible for a 5 year old to walk down the hallway without touching every single piece of artwork on every single bulletin board-unless of course, they are touching each other, or pushing each other, or tripping each other or poking each other or hugging each other. Or tattling about how their neighbor did one of those things.
At recess I learned that one child can be bleeding and not care and another will require a visit to the nurse if his feelings get hurt. I learned that the most threatening statement on the playground is, “Na, na, na, na, boo, boo! You can’t get me!” I learned that kindergarteners are desperate for attention. I learned that the phrase, “Run clockwise only on the painted white arrows” means nothing when you are being chased. And I learned that the word ”poopy” can be a noun, a pronoun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a preposition, a conjunction, an interjection, an insult, a compliment, an exclamation, a question, a threat, a promise and of course, the most popular word in kindergarten.
As for my success in completing my mission of keeping 22 kindergarteners alive for 35 minutes, I’d say 20 out of 22 is a pretty respectable percentage. And as for the two missing potty girls, I’m sure they will be found soon. After all, how hard could it be?
Check This Out!
If you're feeling like you've gained a few pounds and are now a bit on the tubby side, check out the very humorous John Pinette in I'm Starvin' to put things in perspective.