Thursday, March 21, 2013

Slice #21- In which I again encounter underpants

4:15 on Wednesday afternoon. 

We are nearing the end of two weeks of state testing. These days for me are endless, energy-sucking, mind-numbing, spirit-breaking,  and I am exhausted. My shoulders are knotted and tense, and I have woken with a dull throbbing headache every morning.

Then R, a sandy-haired, snub-nosed, freckle-faced, kindergarten friend comes up the stairs to pick up his sister from dance practice. R and I are good friends. I work with him every morning in a kindergarten intervention group. Two or three times a week, I also see him on the playground, when I am called to help this rough and tumble, middle-of-the-action, football-throwing, basketball-dribbling, soccer-ball-kicking kind of kid, pick himself up off the field when he gets dinged up at noon recess.

“Hey, how do you read this anyway?” he says, flapping a book at me. 

It seems kind of a funny question and I wonder what “this” is. I think maybe he has gotten a nonfiction book with a weird format or typeface. Or maybe he has accidentally picked up a Spanish book in our library and doesn't recognize any of the words yet.

It turns out to be nothing quite so unusual. It is, instead, UNDERPANTS, THUNDERPANTS, a picture book by Peter Bentley. Brand new evidently, by the condition of the cover.  The primary classrooms at my school are involved in a program that allows them to order $7 worth of books every month. I saw the kindergarten para sorting out the order yesterday, and I suspect that R's new book  came from there.

It’s a silly book. Dog hangs his underwear on the line, then a storm blows up, and all of his underdrawers- his tighty whities, his zebra striped boxers, the turquoise blue briefs with tabby cat heads- take flight. Each pair of underpants ends up having its own little adventure. It is a simple text, with not too much print and great picture support,  absolutely perfect for a beginning-to-read guy like my friend, R.

I read the first page aloud, drawing my finger under the words, so he can follow along.
One day when the weather 
Dog hangs his UNDERPANTS
 out on the line.
R recognizes the, is, and as sight words from the leveled texts he reads in our intervention group. I try to get him to use picture clues to say underpants, but he just looks at me, as if he cannot quite believe a word like that might actually show up in printed material.

After one page, I get distracted by a parent who needs me to answer a question about a program that is starting the week after spring break. R moves away. When I turn around, I see him standing in the middle of the hall, trying to read UNDERPANTS THUNDERPANTS to himself.

I call him back to me and we sit, side by side, on the stairs in the middle of the front hall, two readers enjoying a new book together.

The word underpants appears on every page. R wrinkles his nose and covers his mouth every time he sees it.

I cannot help but grin at R's reaction. We start to giggle. Laugh at all of the different kinds of underwear. Exclaim over the predicaments the underwear causes.

Mariachi practice lets out and we are surrounded by kids and parents and musical instruments. More than once, I think we should probably move out of people's way, but we are having too much fun. The kids coming out of mariachi practice step around us, not seeming to mind that we have become a human road block.  

R and I finish his book. It is one of those books that you finish, and want to immediately start all over again. Bur R's sister appears, and his daycare provider is ready to leave.

R holds up his new book. "Can we read this at home?" he asks his fourth grade sister. His sister tells him she will read it with him, maybe even in the car.

And for the first time today,  actually maybe for the first time in almost two weeks, I remember why I became a teacher.


Kyle said...

Yesterday one of my students said to me "Mr. Kimmal I figured out what TCAP means." "OH really, what?" "It means Torturing Children Assessment Plan!" He laughed and laughed.

Amazing that a quiet third grade boy can see it!

Carol said...

He definitely nailed it! Out of the mouths of babes…

LibraryDragon/Storykeeper said...

I loved your story of the little boy. I bet he remembers this book with lots of warmth. Great job.

elsie said...

The take away of this story for me is "two readers enjoying a new book together." Perfect!

Donna Smith said...

Yes, this was the why...
I love this story. I want it to be that way all the time!

Katherine Sokolowski said...

Aww, love this. Yes, this is why we teach.

Linda B said...

Beautiful Carol-what a teacher you are to sit and wait and giggle and enjoy. That's exactly it!

Larkin said...

Such a cute story! It's the funny books that always grab the attention of young readers.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

A perfect time...perfectly told. I have such a strong picture of the two of you sitting on the stairs giggling and reading together. Bliss.

Kay said...

I love this story of you reading with a kindergartener. That is indeed why we teach. His reaction reminds me of my 8th graders this week. Our daily grammar practice sentence has the conjunction "but' in it and the boys giggle and whisper, "She said 'butt'" every time I read it aloud.

Shannon Mashinchi said...

He will keep this memory forever...standing in the hall and reading about UNDERPANTS!!! My heart is warm just reading your blog! :)

Melanie Meehan said...

Ha! This kindergartner has a great story to tell about the silly book he got his principal to read to him! Love it!He got you to say underpants a lot. Now, I want to read this book, too!

writekimwrite said...

" I try to get him to use picture clues to say underpants, but he just looks at me, as if he cannot quite believe a word like that might actually show up in printed material. " What an encounter with the power of the printed word! This is a great story that makes me remember why I teach, too. There can be such joy and discovery in learning. So glad you had such a fun moment and shared it.