What do these three things have in common? Tree, elephant, car.
They all have a trunk!
So here is a puzzle for you… Dogs, Bees and Kindergarteners...
Got it yet? If you have children, spent time around children, or even seen children, you have been witness to this phenomenon.
Ready for it…
Dogs, Bees and Kindergarteners can sense your fear.
It is finally Friday. I am on the tail end of Parent Teacher Conference week. Every day of this week has been LONG. I arrived at school before dawn, and left after dusk. Full days of teaching followed by meeting with parents after school have taken their toll.
I feel hungover. (and not because I had to drink after conferences - no liquor involved)
I am in a fog, shuffling around the school, forgetting why I even came to the supply room.
I have read that children are naturally compassionate, and most of the time I find that to be true, but not today. The kindergarteners have no mercy on days like this. Not when the jugular is exposed and their teacher is easy prey.
Somehow they know. They can sense how overtired and underprepared I am.
And to them, this means battle.
They begin their strategic attack when I meet them at the door after morning recess.
Maybe it's telepathy, maybe they have some secret signal, but they all start chanting at the same moment.
It is Montana. It is the Cat vs. Griz game (a.k.a. The Brawl of the Wild) this weekend. So I don’t think much of it...at first. But somehow it does not sizzle out when they come inside. The chant even keeps it’s momentum after I execute my first line of defense: the shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits teacher clap.
When I use my teacher voice, they giggle innocently as the chant finally dies. Twenty beaming smiles and sets of wide eyes all say, “What? We were just having fun!”
But then…they send in the snipers. The specialized agents. The hig- need kiddos that can turn their mood on a dime. It is hard to combat the assault of whining, whimpering and complaining. The most effective at their job are the ones just recovering from the most recent bout of illness that swept the classroom. These students are the most effective because they do not have to work as hard to achieve the same effect. They are already extra tired, extra grumpy, and extra needy. While the specialists take turns rotating through their attack sequence, the other 20 are up to the run-of-the mill shenanigans, that also need to be managed.
I am able to skillfully and strategically ward off their attacks until lunch using a combonation of bandaids, hall passes and hugs.
Whew! A few deep breaths, mainline and refuel with some leftover spaghetti (who has money to order out or time to cook anything but pasta?), and back into the fray...
After lunch everyone's a little happier, including me.
Back in the classroom, I can tell right away they have clearly decided on one more group behavior surge. The lunch break has given them more time to coordinate their efforts. I can just envision them, leaning low over their blue lunch trays and mini milk cartons, plotting my demise.
“Ok, you guys, Here is the plan for after lunch. Even though we have done this 5 times a day, everyday for 54 days, when we have to go sit quietly, criss cross applesauce on the calendar rug...don’t actually sit...do anything but sit. Everybody do something different. Nobody can do the same thing. The weirder the better. Got it? Ok. Good. BREAK!”
Looking over the wiggly sea of kinders I see feet flailing, a breakdance style head spin, the crab walk, the bear walk, and an assortment of ninja inspired moves.
Even the quiet redhead is in on the act. I don’t think he could bring himself to sit any other way besides criss-cross, but he, too, has given in the the mob mentality and is chatting happily with the boy behind him who has taken his shoes off and is unsuccessfully trying to balance them on his head.
Those that aren’t as creative with their movement, are certainly creative with their noises.
I just can’t even.
I just sit and stare over the top of my glasses for a minute.
Have they forgotten that I am here?
“CLASS, CLASS, CLASS” I boom, in most stern teacher voice.
Now they know I am here. They know the tone. They know I mean business.
It takes them half a beat to answer, “Yes, yes, yes” The meek and cautious tone in which they answer tells me that they know the gig is up. Teacher is done. If they push it, they will suffer my wrath.
“I am going to use my kindergarten magic.” I say with a syrupy sweet grin.
They also know this is my “I’m being nice, but you are on the edge” grin.
I dramatically close my eyes.
I count out loud by ten.
I say a little prayer.
I open my eyes.
There is the class I know and love, sitting in front of me, criss cross applesauce hands claped in their laps.
Thank The Lord God Almighty. I have won the war.
I don’t know if it is an energy thing, a sixth sense thing, a chemical thing, or what. All I know is that If I am off my game, they are game-on.
Teachers make more minute-to-minute decisions than brain surgeons.
We carry with us the ancient wisdom of the beach life-guard, “don’t turn you back to the ocean”.
We control our mood and keep our movements slow, like a bee keeper.
We are firm and consistent like Cesar Millan with his dogs
We are the Kid Whisperers.