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Small Talk: Kids say the darndest things

The first week of school is always a week filled with surprises, especially for the incoming kindergarteners.

Every year I make a point of chatting with the K teachers to see what hijinks went down. They never fail me. The youngsters get their first tour all around the school to help familiarize them, and by the time they get to the library, their eyes are wide and many are clearly suffering sensory overload. Somehow they survive, but I just want to give each one a big, reassuring hug. I wish I could convince them that everything gets better from here, at least until junior high.

This year we reportedly have one youngster who sits and chants, “I’m bored! I’m bored! I’m bored! and then makes a dash for the playground when the teacher turns around. There was another who had scrambled halfway up the chain-link perimeter fence, before he was spotted and asked to please come down. His response. “Why?”

Of course, the week is peppered with the question, “Is it time to go home now?” Then we had a first-week fire drill, which they took pretty well, but immediately asked, “Do we have to go back to school afterward?” Nice try, guys.

“I have one who truly thinks he is a raptor dinosaur,” one teacher calmly shared. And another kinder actually counted down the hours until Friday dismissal, when she was promised chicken nuggets and French fries.

Not one, but two in one classroom, are absolutely terrified by the sound of the toilet flushing, and come flying out of the bathroom half dressed. And apparently, a good portion of the little ones also love to sing loudly while in the classroom bathrooms. Well, the acoustics are awesome.

The high — or low — point was one student describing, loudly and in detail, exactly what was going on while he was in the bathroom during an attack of the runs. Kinders do love to share.

And the battle begins to help them distinguish between a question and a comment (always a five-minute ramble). The teacher gave the example, “Where did you get your dog?” A child then posited, “Where did you get your Daddy?” Hmmmmmm. We will keep working on that in the library after story time.

There are always a handful who have older siblings at the school, and you can spot them by their swagger. They know me, they know that I occasionally give out Jolly Rancher candies, and they know where the “Dog Man” and “Star Wars” books are. Oh yeah. They have it down.

But the kinders are the best audience. I am starting them a week earlier than the rest of the classes, because they are so much fun to read to. For the first, but not the last time, we will also discuss library etiquette and the effect of open juice boxes on books in their backpack. It’s their first science lesson.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer and a big fan of the newbies.