Thursday, April 15, 2010

old wives tales

I usually don't believe in telling kids stories to encourage them to make good choices. I try to tell them the truth- mainly because I remember how shocked and betrayed I felt when I found out my first grade teacher lied to us. It was the first time I knew a grown-up lied and I was horrified. (She'd told us that her son only spoke French, so when he came to visit if we wanted to speak to him we could only use the small amounts of French we'd learned in school. As he was leaving she sent me to remind him to wear a jacket. I ran after him, wanting to be compliant, and then froze when he looked down at me. I had no idea how to say any of those words in French. I stuttered through, making big hand motions and trying to act out wearing a jacket. He laughed at me and said, "thanks, tell her I will." In English.)

After that I had a hard time believing the other things she told us, like that she was a witch.

Anyway, most of the time I try to be completely honest with the kids, at least as much as is appropriate.

Of course, I actually have to know something is an old wives tale in order to know not to repeat it to them.

This afternoon in the middle of reading workshop the fire alarm sounded. There are never, ever fire drills in the middle of the day (it would interfere with the lunch schedules, which is a complete hassle) so we immediately knew it wasn't a planned drill. We escorted the children out of the building and prepared ourselves for an extended outdoor break while the fire department checked our school. It turns out that one of our preschool children pulled the alarm. At least they chose a nice day to do it, I have to admit I didn't have any problems spending time outside in the sun.

Back inside the classroom I wanted to make sure the class understood the seriousness of the child's actions. Our assistant principal had briefly addressed this outside, but most of our friends were playing in the grass and didn't really hear her. So we gathered the class together and briefly went over the seriousness of pulling the fire alarm if there is not a fire.

Along with my list of reasons not to pull the alarm- you made the whole school angry with you because everyone had to sit outside and waste their time, - our entire afternoon schedule was messed up, -the poor kids eating lunch were going to have less time to eat and will be hungry the rest of the day, etc, etc (It's first grade- 6 and 7 year olds truly feel that all these consequences are absolutely horrible). And, for good measure, I threw in "if you pull the alarm you will get ink all over your hand so we know who did it."

I mean, that's what they told us in high school.

Sometimes I can be so gullible.

The children were horrified by this. They wanted to know all about the ink and whether or not it would wash off. They fixated on it until my co-teacher and I demanded a change in subject.

At home I mentioned this to Mr. Lipstick. "WHAT? I've never heard that! That's not true" he demanded and made me look it up. He clearly did not attend a high school that had a problem with a once a week fire alarm or bomb threat starting the first week of spring.

So, yeah... they don't actually put dye in every fire alarm. That's a lie. But they SOMETIMES will inject ink into the alarms if there is a problem with frequent pulling (ie, my high school). My internet search led me to learn that this ink is about $95 and becomes darker when you put water on it.

So, now I know. I only kind of lied.

I don't want to bring it up again with the kids because it's time to move on, but I don't want them scared to pull the fire alarm in their apartment building because they don't want to get the ink on their hands. I also don't want them to become so curious about the ink that they pull the alarm to check it out.


I don't know what's worse- lying to them, or lying to them because I believed the stupid lie the first time I heard it...

ps. I never did believe the whole thing about what happens when you pee in the swimming pool so I don't know why I believed the fire alarm story. Although, that may be because one summer when we were young my cousins said, "hey, have you ever heard that if you pee in the pool it turns red? Well, it doesn't, see? I just peed and you can't tell"


Clix said...

*LAUGH* your cousin is AWESOME! ^.^

Wittle Peanut said...

our story teller will be the first person at the library tomorrow to check out a book about fire alarms to see if it's true

am laughing so hard!