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