If you want pure, unadulterated honesty- the kind of honesty that will bring you to your knees or send you into fits of laughter, step inside a Kindergarten classroom. The concept was invented for four and five-year olds. I had a student once who shared with me what her mother wore to bed at night. Don’t bother asking. It is hard to look these parents in the eye at parent teacher interviews when you now visualize them in what they don’t wear to bed each night. Another student, whose father is somewhat of a carpenter and whom I know has made a beautiful apothecary cupboard on which to place their T.V., told me- after a discussion about the words ‘T.V. stand’ having a the letter /t/ in them- that they had no such thing at their house. Their television is just sitting on an old box. Basically, a piece of pure garbage.
I have children who honestly share heartbreaking things with me as well. That their parent cannot read. That they are responsible for getting themselves ready in the mornings and to the bus on time. That they pack their own lunch. That they have no books to read in their home. That they are afraid no one will be there when they get off the bus. And what really kills me is this one: that they are afraid because things are not copacetic on the home front. That they are afraid for themselves and for the ones they love. When I see these children for who they really are, innocent little lives in the making, I feel an utter and complete- actually, an overwhelming urge- to protect and shelter them from the storms of life.
Because to share is to trust. And trust is a treasure. The debt owed to honesty.
And then there is the complete and utter transparency of a Kindergartener. What you see is what you get. I was reading a little book by Bob Munsch called Boo! to my students after lunch when I caught a little girl red-handed with her finger firmly stuck inside her left nostril. I asked her if she needed a Kleenex, as just moments before she had found a mysterious looking object that looked quite like a booger sitting inside her book. So when I found her in this compromising position I thought I would ask. “Do you need a Kleenex?”
“Nope,” she replied as she still sat there, finger firmly intact. Why would she need a Kleenex when she’s got a finger?
I have another little one that cannot say ‘except’. So, whenever she uses the word in a sentence- (for instance, “I am going to do this except I want to do this after”)- she says it like this: I am going to play Barbies ‘sex’ I want to play with the Polly Pockets after.
And this one takes the cake. I have a little guy who always calls going to the washroom a ‘wee’. So one day, a French Immersion teacher at our school thought she would be helpful and teach my class a new French word that they could use in everyday conversations with one another. The word was ‘oui’. My little friend pipes up, “Oh I already know that one. We go in there (points to the washroom) when we take a wee.” This same little guy also once told me, after having used the restroom in the afternoon when things aren’t quite so fresh in there anymore: “That place smells terrible. They need some air freshener in there.” So many teachable moments begin in the bathroom.
So, I shouldn’t have been surprised when a little six-year old girl shared with me today that she had been to her family doctor and he wanted her to lose seventy-five pounds. Which would bring her close to the weight of a pre-mature baby. Because little people have nothing to hide. There are no secrets. Even when it comes to the issue of weight loss.
And isn’t life a more interesting, challenging, colorful place when we can pull back the blinds and show people who we really are in the light of day- warts and all. That’s the kindergarten way of doing things.
I think I might know that television stand…and it is a beautiful piece of furniture. What is wrong with that child?