Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Preschool Littles

Working with children, as I have often said before, has been a blessing to me for many different reasons.  The children that occupy our classroom each day are at an age when the world still fills them with wonder, and seeing things through their eyes never fails to fill me with wonder, as well.  The first snowfall of the year or tree limbs dancing on a windy day captivate all of us, as we witness nature unfold through our classroom windows together.  I am present when the first feelings of empathy stir within them, as they notice another child who has suffered a bruised knee, or, perhaps, a bruised heart, and they offer some gesture of comfort or kindness, to make that child feel better.  I hear them laugh, as only children can, at anything they deem silly or amusing, during that carefree period of life still devoid of grown up worries or concerns.  And finally, I feel blessed by all the many wonderful things they say, honest and heartfelt, but, so oftentimes, hilarious. The nuances of language or notions of tactfulness have yet to be acquired, so their responses are often unexpected; but they are always delightful.
Just such an occurrence happened yesterday during "circle-time," a period at the beginning of the morning, during which time is set aside to share exciting news or interesting information.  To lend gravity to this important time of sharing, each child takes a turn speaking into our "magic microphone" to ensure that the thoughts that they offer are not interrupted.  (For those curious as to what a "magic microphone" looks like, it is a battery-operated reflector light on a stick, and it does absolutely nothing to alter the sound of one's voice, yet everybody, including myself, speaks directly into it as if it is magnifying the sound.)
A delightful little girl, with brown hair and soulful eyes, took the microphone and declared to all the classroom that she regularly attended baseball games with her daddy and her brother, and at them, she had a very fun time.
"That's wonderful!" Mrs. Theobald, the teacher I work with, responded, and then curious as to whether the child's father or brother was on a team, she added. "Who do you go see play?   Who is on the team?"
The child paused for a moment to consider the inquiry.  Then, after giving it some thought, she replied. "Baseball players....baseball players are on the team."
My favorite story of all though, involved my picture ID badge; one that is required to be worn by all the staff in our entire school district. At the time, many years ago when this practice was implemented, I was just returning to work following summer vacation.  In my photo, my skin is very dark from the many wonderful days I spent on the beach with my daughters in Port Sanilac, and my black hair is short and curly.  Each year the district updates our badges with the current school year emboldened on them, but unless you want a new photo taken the old one is used again and again.  Since that time, I have grown considerably paler and my hair is now past my shoulders with just a slight wave; in other words, I look nothing like my picture.
One of my littles, a boy about five years old, asked me to tie his shoe, and, as I did, he grabbed the badge that was hanging around my neck to examine the picture.
"What is this, Mrs. Valente?" he asked with a puzzled expression on his face.
"That is my ID badge," I told him, and then proceeded to explain the purpose of the badges.
"Were you a little girl then?" he asked.
Realizing that it wasn't the badge itself that he was curious about, but, rather, the reason why my appearance was now so different than it was in the photo, I explained, "No, I was a grown up, but back then my hair was short and now it is long...that is why I look different to you."
"But were you a little girl?"  he repeated, his puzzled and uncomprehending expression never changing.
"No." I reassured him again. "It was just a few years ago, but I was still a grown up."
Finally, a  look of understanding crossed his face, and he dropped the badge and returned to his play. I felt satisfied that my explanation had answered all his questions, and I also resumed what I had been doing previously.  Barely a moment had passed though, when he came back with another boy and asked me if he could show him my badge.  I complied, and waited to listen as he shared his new-found knowledge concerning ID badges and the reason why I looked so different from my photo.
Instead, he showed his friend the badge and began his sentence just as he had with me..."See, this is Mrs. Valente when she used to be.."  Much to my surprise though, he ended it in a completely different way than I had expected. He said, "See, this is Mrs. Valente when she used to be....Black!"
With littles, I have learned to always expect the unexpected! : D


  1. Your stories never fail to make me laugh and smile! So lucky to have had two of my littles pass through you and Mrs. Theobald's classroom. Hopefully the third does as well! :-)

    Lisa P.

  2. thank you, lisa...but i think it is mrs. theobald and i who are the lucky ones.

  3. Amazing how the wheels of those curious little brains are spinning overtime researching and studying every little detail that passes through them. I love it.


  4. another fabulous read amy!!! you always make me smile.. it feels so good to look at the world thru the eyes of children... a lesson we all should adhere. love ya patti

  5. thanks, patti! ...more often than not, i feel like it is the littles who are teaching me. :D

  6. Ah ha I bet I know where you got this idea! Well done young lady I am passing this on to my friends ! Bet you have alot more of these stories Please share them

  7. yes, i was checking out east-side story detroit, and i saw one of your posts...plus, my daughter, jamie, told me it was time to post a funny blog. ...hopefully, it was. lol. ;D

  8. Littles are amazing people. Someday when your grandchildren come along, you will have many more stories to tell us. Keep us smiling!

  9. Ha ha Ha!!!! I love this story!! Great job at making me laugh AGAIN!!! Keep up the great writing!!!

  10. Denise has stories like this too, out of the mouth of babes.

  11. Your story has reminded me to pull my books back out & start writing all the priceless things the girls say down. With both the girls running around its a little harder to find the time but you just reminded me of how priceless these things are. Paula

  12. Another great story, Amy! Thank you!

  13. thanks, everyone....and paula, they really are priceless. make sure to write them down!!