I adore my niece (Pre-K) and nephew (K). They are super duper adorable. Really I can sit and talk to them for hours. In general I do a pretty good job of toning down my “adult” language around them but do slip up now and then and have to change an “asshat” to “ass-tonishingly bad man” or “fucking drive your car” to “fu-dgey mc-fudge you are going slow.” I’m sure my fumbling only causes more attention to my words. I’m really good at using silly sayings I use with the dogs like “shake a tail feather” or “hold your horsies.” Frankly neither the kids nor the dogs really know how to respond to those. All in all I do well with kids. If they are fun I will sit and talk to them and play whatever they are in to. If they aren’t fun and are throwing a fit I ignore them, or if we have to go somewhere, pick them up and walk away with them kicking and screaming under my arm or over my shoulder. BUT this is in free fun time. I have no idea how to act in a classroom setting with 25+ of them all staring at me.
My sister is a first grade teacher. She is great at it and loves it but there are sooooo many rules. At least I perceive that there are a lot of rules. Can I talk about Christmas? Can I talk about any kind of religion or what could be considered religious holidays even if they aren’t religious to me? What about science? Creationism (not that I would)? Evolution (is that a topic for first graders)? Is “stupid” really a bad word?” What if they talk out of turn but what they say is really interesting do I have to ignore them? What if one of them has a burger in his nose and it’s distracting? What if I only like the really smart girl in the front row because she reminds me of myself and I don’t care about any of the other kids? What if one of them smells really bad? What if I say “good Lord” is that acceptable? I am an Atheist so don’t believe in God does that make it ok or worse? SO CONFUSING.
I was having this little mini nervous breakdown because, like last year, I was heading to my friend’s sons elementary school to read a book to a first grade class. It took me awhile to even figure out what to read. The first book I picked up was, Dragons Love Tacos.” Hilarious. Love it! I googled the age ranges and was worried it was too young but it was soooooo funny I gave in and went with it. Then I was questioning my decision because there really was no “learning” or “moral” to the story and shouldn’t there be? After all this is school. The only moral to this book was not to feed a group of dragons hot sauce. I mean … yay … of course … good lesson … but not really something you want you kid to respond to you when you ask, “what did you learn in school today?” Then I started reading more reviews and realized the book used the word “hate” more than a few times and apparently parents don’t like that so I freaked out and had to remember to substitute that horrible nasty no-no word with words like “loathe” and “don’t like.”
When push came to shove the book was a success and I got audience giggles through the entire thing. Honestly there were huge chunks I didn’t read as much as just tell a story that was loosely based on the pictures and words on the page. I ‘m sure the kids close enough to see the words were wondering why I was such a horrific reader. The teacher seemed to be a-ok with me filling the time before recess so we had some things to chat about. At one point I pointed to the front of the book where it said it was a “NY Times Best Seller.” I asked what that meant and one little girl told me it meant the book was written in NY. I immediately started to say, NO but changed it to noooooootttt quite, but almost! Let’s face it she wasn’t even close. I was afraid to say “no.” I didn’t want her to grow up and become a stripper all because a guest reader said no to her in first grade.