Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jingle Bells, Batman Smells...

It's the holidays. People are on their best behavior...and their worst behavior. Remember the "Tickle Me Elmo" craze a while back? People were selling their children to get a Tickle Me Elmo--only to then find there was no one left to give him to! And of course, I can't leave out the Cabbage Patch doll holiday shopping bloodbath...ruthless housewives joined street gangs in order to get one of those little dolls under the Christmas tree.

I need to remember to look at my first graders whenever I feel my heart rate start to go up. They definitely keep it all real for me. Anything is possible...and expected with first graders. A few days ago, one of them asked me, "Aren't you going to put up a tree?"

Another great thing is that the holidays are often blurred. One of the girls occasionally brings Halloween back and wears her long, plush cat tail pinned to the back of her shirt. It doesn't create mumbles, or even a stare when she sweeps in with that thing on. Last week we sat down to do our morning meeting and someone casually throws out, "I like your tail."

"Thanks," she responds, with a glamorous toss of the hair. That girl will never have a heart attack.

Show and Tell time remains my favorite activity of the day, and usually consists of long Sears Wishbook lists around this time of year. But one of the girls has a lot of something else on her mind. She leans on the tall stool at the front of the room and gazes out into the crowd, ruefully. "My mom has this new baby," she says. "I keep trying to pet him, and all he does is cry on me."
I hear murmurs of sympathy from the crowd.

"I was helping my mom, and he sprayed pee all over me."

Great. She has mentioned the trifecta. Any brief mention of the trifecta (poop, pee, or underwear) can send your first graders into a frenzy that may last into the next day.

"What's your new baby look like?" I ask, desperately trying to redirect.

She looks up at the ceiling, contemplating. "He's got short hair." She retreats to her seat.

"I've got a new Christmas song," one of the boys says. "I'm going to teach it to the class." Then he stands up, and belts out, Jingle Bells! Batman Smells! Robin laid an egg."

"We need to get going with our work," I say. Then I have to remind myself not to be a Scrooge.
I move on to the business of the day. The high school music department is coming over to give us a holiday concert, so I need to give the standard audience behavior lecture.

My first graders are toward the front of the auditorium, so I'm thinking they will be very interested in the up-close view of all of the instruments. It turns out, their favorite part is the conductor. I'm sure he has no idea that about 30 kids are trying to copy his every move behind him.

One little boy is completely still for the entire half hour. He seems startled when they stop playing. I line everyone up to leave and he looks up at me. "I loved that so much, it turned my mind inside out," he says.

I want to be that kid when I grow up.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

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