Tuesday, October 8, 2013
SLICE OF LIFE
I am a literacy coach.
I love my job, but once in a while I wish I had my own class.
Take yesterday for example.
A perfect, perfect, perfect fall day.
Blue, blue, blue sky.
I am on the kindergarten playground, refereeing the lunch recess "football game."
Mostly that means I count to ten and yell "first down" at random moments.
First down means it's someone else's turn to hold the ball while the rest of team runs from one end of the field to the other to make a touch down.
We are mid-game, when L runs screaming from the swings.
"Teacher, you have to come. You have to come come."
I follow her, wondering what I will see. These requests come often and can refer to anything from a bloody nose to a ball stuck in a tree or a child who needs to be talked down from the top of the jungle gym.
Today it is a bug.
A bright green bug.
A bright green leaf-shaped bug.
"Look teacher," says L. "Look. That leaf has legs."
I squat down next to her. Soon we are joined by four or five more kindergarten friends.
F wants to squash the bug. I tell him that we are scientists watching, and scientists don't squash bugs.
We count the legs.
F counts two. L says, "No, there are four."
I point out the long back legs. Two pairs of shorter legs. We count again.
The group grows to ten.
K suggests we should bury the bug in wood chips.
I tell her that scientists don't bury bugs. She flicks one or two chips questioningly but stops when I give her my best teacher stink eye.
The creature jumps. Half of the kindergarten scientists run away screaming, then come back.
The group grows to 15 scientists. I wonder how the poor bug, minding its own business until a few minutes ago, feels about being surrounded by a group of scientists.
We notice the bulging eyes. The antennae. Talk about how the bug's color and shape help it hide from predators.
I wish we had clipboards, so the scientists could make note of their observations.
Our specimen jumps again and again, half of the scientists scream and run away.
This time our buggy friend lands on D's shoe, then proceeds to crawl up his pant leg.
D looks a little nervous, but stands perfectly still as I gently brush the creature to the ground.
The group grows to twenty.
We squat in the dirt.
And then the bell rings.
If I had had my own class, we would have gone inside,
gotten out science journals
Because a bright green
leaf with legs,
found on the kindergarten playground
on a gloriously golden-treed,
is too perfect
not to save