Apr 29, 2011

A Very Rare Breed

Kindergarten teachers fascinate me. Certainly, there is the occasional oddball who doesn't like teaching kindergarten and finds the children quite bothersome, but then there are the teachers at my son's school. Ridiculously long, healthy, dark hair, always curled and/or flat ironed and never in a ponytail. Make-up, color-coordinated and professional clothing and that ridiculous smile that doesn't budge. They are unflappable, organized, and never get tired.

Nancy's response to a child standing on the table: "Get off the table. Get off the table. Right. Now. Get off the table or I'm going to call your mother!" As if I know his mother.

Ms. R.'s response to a child standing on the table: "Oh, Collin," in a disappointed voice. "What are tables for?" Collin never gets on the table again. She has 27 children in her class. Everything is organized, scheduled, and predictable. When a parent who is supposed to be helping in her class steps out of line, the children tell me her exactly how it's supposed to be. And those rules are specific.

Today the kindergarten teachers took on the ultimate job of herding cats: They took the children to the zoo. Feeling magnanimous, I took the day off work so I could spend the day with my son at the zoo. I thought it would be fun.

Being my usual punctual self, I showed up 10 minutes late as the children were being herded out to the buses. A list was shoved into my free hand and showed that I was in charge of four children along with a dad. We quickly divided to conquer and I now had my own son and his friend who looks to be about 4 years old. This came into play when the other kindergarten teacher (the one who doesn't always wear that ridiculous smile) approached me and told me I would have to drive in my own car to the zoo rather than ride the school bus because I had a younger child. I started standing up to leave the bus when another mother said, "No, that's a student!"  I had to sit back down.

More and more children were filed and shoved into seats. Three and four to a seat was the rule. The same teacher began at the front of the bus and I noticed grown-ups getting off. By the time word trickled back, ten parents had exited and been asked to drive up separately so there would be room for the kids. I jumped up, grabbed my backpack and other paraphernalia, kissed my son and told him I'd meet him at the zoo and started to exit.  Just then, 7 of the parents returned. Tragedy averted. We DID have room for all of us. I was so excited.

"Mom, have you ever been on a school bus before?" my son asked me.

"Nearly every day of my childhood," I sighed. "Except when I was chasing one to catch it."

"Like a dog?"

"Yeah, kind of like that."

Once at the zoo, I really enjoyed the time with my boy. I didn't realize his friend was into dramatics. He had helpful information about every animal on exhibit and his commentary was non-stop:

"That bird, the raven, flies for 2,000 miles without stopping."
"Did you know tigers have horns?  They call them tusks."
"Hey! Guess what! That gorilla is so disgusting!  He throws up, then eats his throw up then throws up again." (This one gathered a crowd of approximately 25 kindergarten boys from various schools).
"The peacock boy lays eggs!"
"This is a bobcat."
If you spell bobcat, T-I-G-E-R, he's right.

Eventually, he ran out of steam. Then he dragged his feet and stopped paying attention to the exhibits or to me. I went left. He went right. He wouldn't hold my hand. I didn't feel comfortable using my mean-mom voice on him like I do with my own children.

I passed those two kindergarten teachers on the way to the bus. I was dragging one child, carrying two backpacks, my hair was askew and I'd lost the map. Ms. R. and Ms. B. looked at me with matching big, brown eyes and perfect smiles and exclaimed, "Isn't this fun!"
It takes a special breed to make a kindergarten teacher. I salute them.


EmptyNester said...

AMEN Sista! You got that right! I have always said that kindergarten teachers have crowns awaiting them in Heaven. Our lovely DD4 (DoodleBug) is about to enter her junior year of college where she is studying to become a kindergarten teacher. Why? Because the one she had is most remarkable and had such a positive effect on my daughter. Mrs M retires this year. She will be missed.

M said...

Herding cats is the exact analogy!

I was always the mom that went on every field trip and broke the rules and snuck my diet coke on with me. I never could figure out why kept letting me come back until I realized that it was rare to find a parent volunteer!

And, you are brave to do the zoo when it's been so cold. I think I might have to wait until July