Never a dull moment

By Helen Row Toews

July 20, 2017 12:26 PM

Life with kids is never dull. Nope, it’s filled with endless variety, colour and imagery drawn from fertile minds.
Those minds may not always be on schoolwork, or on what people are saying to them, but they’re undoubtedly active.
Let’s look at a couple of examples shall we? Of course, names have been changed to protect the innocent.
I was working in a classroom of Grade 1 students this past spring where the teacher was educating her class on various forms of precipitation. It was a good lesson, well prepared, delivered interestingly enough – had they all, in fact, been listening.
However, it had been a long afternoon for one little chap in particular, and his attention wavered between a bit of old chewed up eraser and a somewhat mangled looking paper clip he’d procured from the floor near his desk (almost anything can be turned into a toy with enough imagination.)
These items danced across Oliver’s desk in happy delight until teacher instructed him to put them away.
Then, with the audible sigh of a condemned man, he shoved them out of sight and turned a small bored face to the speaker, resigned to his fate.
Teacher had moved on to the topic of hail and sleet by this time and was drawing the lesson to a close.
She began involving the children in a short question period to see if they’d retained the information.
“Can anyone tell me what type of precipitation we might receive on a warm summer day?” teacher inquired brightly, smiling round at the kids to encourage a response – any response.
Several arms finally went up, and the correct answer was found.
Meanwhile, Oliver slumped in his chair, a toe scraping along the floor to create a small, but gratifying noise.
His fingers twitched under the radar of teacher’s eye on his lap, as he acted out some tragic scene of life and death (at times, one must rely on the simplest of props for entertainment.)
It was just as one of the two main players in this pathos was toppling off a cliff to certain doom, that teacher called his name. “Oliver! Are you listening? What have you learned today about snow?” Oliver jerked to attention.
Hands became still at his sides, feet quiet as he faced the front with strained features and blank eyes.
“Snow?” he repeated slowly in an effort to play for time.
Tilting his head to one side he drummed a finger on his forehead as he cast vainly about for any possible shred of information on snow he might have available.
“I KNOW,” he hollered, coming bolt upright out of his chair with relief and excitement. “Don’t eat it if it’s yellow!”
Driving along in the bus after school one day I heard an exchange between a young brother and sister.
It wasn’t difficult to hear actually, for toward the end it was delivered at the top of sister’s lungs.
In fact, it reached such a high decibel I was forced to intervene lest the racket continue forever and my brains be blasted out.
It all began with a simple request from the girl to her sibling who sat two seats behind her. “Joey?” she called sweetly, “I want to tell you something.”
Joey, I presume well-accustomed to these appeals, said nothing and continued his lively discussion with a friend across the aisle.
“Joey?” her voice grew louder and more insistent. She turned, craning her neck out into the aisle and, after a deep cleansing breath, commenced the performance of a routine well-known to the participants.
“Joey – Joey – Joey,” each time raising her voice in intensity, each time like a nail being driven into my noggin.
“JOEY – JOEY – JOEY,” the spaces between each word were shorter now, sort of like the rapid fire of a machine gun shot behind the getaway drivers head to warn off coppers.
Naturally, everyone except Joey had paused and turned towards the tiny girl who continued her staccato bursts unceasingly, “JOEY, JOEY, JOEY.”
“Stop!” I hollered, my eyeballs bugging out my skull, “What do you have to tell him? Is it really that important?”
“Yes,” she said simply, her big blue eyes searching mine earnestly, blonde curls bobbing as she nodded vigorously. “It’s very important.”
“Alright, Joey,” I said briskly, looking back at him in my mirror, “Listen up. Your sister has something to tell you.”
She swivelled towards him, every eye and ear on the bus tuned in to witness this marvellous piece of information about to be delivered.
Her moment had arrived. A self-satisfied smile played on her lips and a distinctly smug expression appeared as she glanced around at Joey with fluttering eyelashes, “I got candy today and you didn’t so NAH, NAH.” 
Yes, life is full and rich when you work with kids.

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