i have two friends i have worked with for three years now. they both needed an extra year at kindergarten and are now in first grade. i love that i've gotten to get to know them so well over three years and have really been able to watch their developmental changes as they grow from being boys with no school experience to serious little learners.
one of these boys is my story teller. for three years now he has made appearances on this blog, always the little one behind the scenes, telling us like it is. he is the most genuine child i've ever met. he will never be able to play poker because every thought he has is shown on his face or comes out his mouth.
he is the one who told me every morning that he he had been abducted by aliens during the night in kindergarten round 1. in year 2 of kindergarten he gave me a detailed description of his dad's experience with beer as he and i walked down the hallway. he told the bus driver on our field trip that she made a mistake, but then said she did a nice job driving the bus the rest of the time. he wrote a letter to president obama the day after the inauguration just to tell him he saw him on tv and thought he was nice.
he is the little one who pulled a high reader up to my desk in kindergarten, and asked, "how come he can read?" with such deep concern, as though i had given his friend the gift of reading but not my story teller.
this year, as we got into reading groups he exclaimed over every page, "hey, this isn't so bad! hey! i can read!" as he worked his way through the simple text on each page.
he told a story this year to the class about going to the dentist and the class was far more engaged listening to him than they ever are listening to us. he told every gruesome detail, leaning forward in his chair at the scary parts and speaking in hushed tones:
"and then, they put the metal piece waaayyy back in my mouth" (children gasp)
"and there was blood!" (more gasping as every child in the class threw their hand over their mouth.
two days ago he told a story about crashing his toy car into a tree. again we were mesmerized by this simple story and truly felt his pain as he ended with "it was horrible!"
he is always the first one to compliment a friend or a teacher. "wow" he'll say to a friend during writing workshop when he glances over at someone else's work, "i like your s. i wish i could make my s's like that"
i wish i'd been writing down everything he's said this year because every day there is a new thoughtful question, honest response, or careful observation. these usually are blurted out at inappropriate times, but are so full of genuine concern or thought that we can never be mad at him.
yesterday i was doing a book introduction to his reading group. the book was about a naughty kitten and as i showed the first page and told the group it was about a cat he gasped.
"oh, mrs. lipstick, i don't like cats!" he exclaimed with deep concern.
"oh, ok" i said, trying to go on with my book introduction.
"cats," he explained, "are NOT good listeners."
no, no, my friend, they are not. let's go back to the book, shall we?
"cats, " he went on, "are NOT good at listening, but dogs, dogs are good listeners."
the other members of the reading group nodded in agreement, each reflecting on their own memories of those bad listener cats.
sometimes i think life would be better if i just let the story teller deliver the lessons.