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Small Talk: Getting a read on the new kids

I chuckle a lot this time of year. It is the time of the new kindergartners.

In my library job, nothing is more hilarious and adorable than the new crop of little guys.

They don’t come into the library for a few weeks after school begins, because, of course, they are already stunned by a powerful lot of really strange, new things they have to do, learn and remember.

It is fascinating to watch the ones whose parents never used the words “no” or “now” with their child. I’ll be darned if I know how any parent survives the first five years without this, but every new school year sports a few kids surprised by the concept.

Anyway, after the astoundingly patient and good-hearted kindergarten teachers get these cuties acclimated, they file into the media center, eyes big as saucers. 

Without fail, when I tell them the books must come back in a week, one will ask how long a week is. When you are 4 feet tall and every day lasts forever, a week might as well be a year.

As the school year progresses, I always find a handful of parents who still struggle with this same concept.

Next I explain that these books belong to every student. That one is always a stumper.

How can they possibly belong to everyone? It’s either yours or it’s not, right?  Oh man, more of that tiresome sharing business. There is usually some eye-rolling on this.

While they ponder this abstraction, we move on swiftly to care of the books, stressing the dangers of puppy teeth and half-empty juice boxes in their backpacks.

When I remind them that liquid in any form is not good for books,  I find it a little hard to tell them no reading in the tub, since it happens to be one of my favorite pastimes, but like any good vice, it’s just too risky for minors.

As I hold up a “book stick,” I immediately get the undivided attention of every boy in the class. These are rulers used to mark where the book goes back, if he/she chooses not to select it.

It is a lovely theory and actually works — sometimes.

But as any parent knows, anything that is longer than it is wide has enormous potential as a weapon.

Their little faces fall when I sternly point out that anyone who wields a book stick as a sword, or poke-’em, smack-’em stick, will feel my wrath. They will do it anyway, sooner or later. It is simply too tempting.

Finally, I explain lining up to check out their books, stamping each book with the return date and right about then, their sweet little eyes just glaze over.

I have to cover it all, but I know it will need repeating.

For a few of those ingenuous grins and unabashed hugs, I’m prepared to make the sacrifice.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who loves to meet new readers. Contact her at [email protected].

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