Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Two stories about pie
Schools take a Spring Break right about now, but workplaces do not. Luckily, Ben's afternoon program provides childcare for all of us who have to keep working while teachers get a well-deserved vacation.
Childcare means a little less structure and routine for Ben and a little more stress for me, wondering how he will fare all day with his 5-going-on-14 typical pals and non-French speaking teachers.
Today started out with Ben walking into the classroom and initiating some brilliant imaginative play, pretending a block was "pie" and offering the pie to his friends and the teacher. He got a long cylindrical block out of the pile and announced, "I'm going to use this to roll the pie" and pretended he had a rolling pin.
Then a couple of boys came over and, right in front of me, told Ben they wanted some of his pie and then pretended to give him some pie that they announced, in a mean spirited way, was actually 1) mud and 2) poop.
They are five year old boys and I guess I should excuse them. This is the world of five year old boys. After all, I wasn't expecting them to be talking about credit default swaps.
But to be mean to a kid in front of his mom seemed pretty audacious and provocative, even for five-year-olds. And I spent the morning contemplating things I could have/should have said.
(Best suggestion from a Twitter friend: "Tell them there's no Santa Claus.")
Ben did not appear offended and continued playing. At one point, he gave his pretend rolling pin to another boy and explained to him, "I turned this rolling pin back in to a light saber for you. I know you like those."
It made me want to stand up on a table and shout, "Excuuuuse me! Thoughtfulness, creativity, perspective taking... Hello, people! My kid is more advanced and socially appropriate than any of you snotty little cretins."
But I didn't.
Later, when I came to pick Ben up, it was story time: Harold and the Purple Crayon. I came in just after the part where Harold was finishing his picnic of "nothing but pie."
Ben's hand shot up and the teacher called on him.
"I like pie. I know a story called Samurai Pie. It's on Mission to Mars. That's a show on a DVD."
He looks over at me and doesn't miss a beat.
"And my mom's here. It's a Backyardigans show. Have you ever heard of the Backyardigans?"
Now, Chris and I have discussed the fact that we both were Compulsive Hand-Raisers in elementary school. Each of us was always the one in our classroom desperate to offer our important insights on every topic.
We knew that Ben would follow in our footsteps, but we figured it would be in like, second, maybe third grade. I had no idea he even knew he was supposed to raise his hand before talking and there he was: perfect posture with his arm shooting up like a ramrod.
When the teacher got to the next page, Ben's hand shot up again. She said in a tired voice as if this had been happening since long before I got there, "Ben, I'm not going to call on you until the end of the story."
My heart sank.
"C'mon. Why not? Clearly, none of these kids has has anything to say. Why not call on him?"
But I didn't say that either.
Ben wasn't upset he didn't get to make his point.
Maybe because he seems to be learning that sometimes you get to talk in class and sometimes you don't and it all seems arbitrary or just based on how tired the teacher is, and kids will tell you that they just made you eat mud and poop and laugh at you and you walk away and keep playing and keep raising your hand.
And I guess that's inclusion, in a weird, scary way.
Now who wants pie?