Conversations With Third Graders
One of the perks of teaching school is that thing Art Linkletter taught us a long time ago. Children say the funniest things! Whenever one of my students innocently came up with a little Funny, I wrote it on a scrap of paper and tossed it into a file in my desk drawer - if I had a chance.
I have no idea how many things were lost because I had to deal with a trauma, like who wouldn’t play with whom at recess, and the funny remark disappeared from my scattered mind before I could get it in the drawer but I did end up with a small collection.
Walking back to the classroom after serving Playground Duty one day, with the children walking behind me like a row of ducklings, I was silently wondering if I would be able to make it till lunchtime before I got a potty break. I was holding the hand of the line leader so it must have been the beginning of the year. Third graders aren’t usually interested in line leaders or holding the teacher’s hand by the end of the school year.
The cherub walking next to me asked, “Mrs. Guinn, are you past high school?” I was about 45 at the time, and I didn’t think I could pass for a high school student so I confessed, “Yes, Sweetie, I am past high school.”
He contemplated this for a moment and then asked, “Are you past college?”
“Yes. Yes I am. Actually, I am way past college.”
“Whoa!” he breathed in amazement. He thought about that for a beat and then in a sincere and worried voice, he asked “Are you going to have to get a job now?”
“Lyle, why aren’t you doing your handwriting paper?” says me.
“Well,” says Lyle, who begins every sentence with the word well,
“Since I have two ‘L’s in my name, I don’t need to practice my ‘L’s,” he reasons, “I’ll be making a lot of ‘L’s all my life.”
“That’s all the more reason to practice them, don’t you think?” I counter-reason.
“Well, every time I write my name, I practice my capital ‘L’ and my little ‘l’ so I don’t have to practice any more than that.”
A few weeks later:
“Lyle, why aren’t you working on your handwriting paper?” Cursive writing was obviously not his favorite subject.
“Well, I’ll do some of the words, but I’m skipping ‘sister’ because I don’t have a sister and I’ll never have to write that word.”
On another occasion:
I am reading a Junie B. Jones book to my class and their first grade “Book Buddies”
I read something about a rooster that might peck someone’s head into a nub. A hand shoots up.
“What’s a nub?”
As I begin to explain the nub concept, a visiting first grader says,
“I could bring my mom and show you! She has a nub!”
My eyes seek out the other teacher, my mouth still open in mid sentence. She nods her head.
“Her arm. She only…”
“She has one arm and one nub!” the little voice says, proud to be the authority on nubs.
I pinch the bridge of my nose to hold back the impending headache.
“Mrs. Guinn, I can’t get this stuff into my back pack.”
“Yes you can.” I reply, when what I really want to say is, “Then why do you haul all that stuff back and forth from home every day and who’s idea was it to send little kids to school every day with those heavy, bulky back packs for everyone to trip over all day long, for Pete’s sake?”
“How can I get it in here?” he whines, when what he really wants to say is, “You do it for me.”
“Use your common sense, Chris. You DO have some common sense, don’t you?” I say in my exasperated, end-of-the-day voice.
Baffled, Chris shrugs his shoulders. “Not that I know of.”
As a teacher, I always dressed for the day. On Cinco de Mayo I wore my Mexican senorita outfit and for the whole month of December I dressed like an outlandish Christmas tree and on the day before Thanksgiving break, I always wore my Indian princess dress.
One Valentines Day I wore a red sweater dress, heart-shaped jewelry, and high-heeled shoes. A little Vietnamese girl came to me smiling sweetly; her hands folded adoringly under her chin, and said “Oh, Mrs. Guinn, you so beautiful today. Just like hooker!”
Now what are you going to say to that?