amazing in that 'I can't believe this is my life' sort of way.
It's been a long week. Actually, it's been a string of long weeks all backed into each other. Mr. Lipstick has informed me that my nightly teeth grinding hit a new level a few weeks ago, and I know I wake up with my jaw hurting. It certainly has been a challenging fall.
I was barely making it through Friday, going through the paces of the day, trying to be productive and not make any glaring mistakes. During math I settled in beside my friend with the magical stroller to play a number sense matching game. We started out working at his table, but when I realized he was a bit distracted by the other kids I moved us to the floor. Something about the move to the floor changed everything. Suddenly he wasn't just a little distracted, he was extremely distracted. But not by anything apparent. In fact, he kept stopping mid-sentence while talking to me to turn to his side and mumble words.
Finally I had to ask, "Are you talking to someone?"
"My robot" he informed me, mater of factly. "He's trying to talk to me. He's right over there." and he pointed under the table where we were sitting.
I took a moment and considered this. When I was teaching my smart cookie she started the year bringing her imaginary friend to school. Having been a child with imaginary friends myself, and having gotten in trouble in preschool for yelling at a real friend who sat on my imaginary friend, perhaps I have a soft spot for imaginary friends. With my smart cookie I simply informed her she was no longer allowed to bring her imaginary friend to school. The friend has to go to his own imaginary school, where he could have an imaginary teacher and imaginary friends. Being smart enough to pick up the fact I was playing her game along with her this strategy completely worked. Any time she mentioned her imaginary friend I just had to remind her of the rules. Imaginary friends stay at home. I did hear reports that she was late to school because she made her mother drive to the imaginary school to drop off her imaginary friend, but you know, at least he wasn't coming to my classroom anymore.
So I tried this same strategy with my magical-stroller friend.
"Your robot is not allowed to come to school" I said. "Robots stay home."
Stroller-friend looked at me out of the corner of his eye, and then glanced over at the empty space where his robot sat. "Did you hear that?" he asked the empty space. "go home."
Back to me he said, "He didn't go home. He went over there. He's hiding. He'll play with me later. He'll play with me outside."
"At home." I stated. "He'll play with you at home. Now, this is the number two. Can you find the card with two apples?"
He looked down at the cards for a moment before he paused and tilted his head to the side. "I said GO AWAY" he announced to the air, and then shook a finger.
"Your robot went home." I said, "he' not here."
"No, he's right there" friend argued with me, pointing a table across the room. "He wont go home. He's waiting for me."
Clearly this wasn't working.
"Your robot is pretend and in kindergarten we only have children who are real." I launched into a real/pretend speech for a bit. Friend eyed me suspiciously. Mid-talk he turned and yelled at his robot. "Stop it!" he said. Clearly he did not care one bit if I thought his friend was pretend. He still wasn't going home.
Giving up I returned to the math games hoping I could just distract him, "Find two apples" I prompted. Just as friend was about to count a card with four apples he turned and giggled. "No, robot, not now" he said.
My head exploded.
"If your robot will not stop he is going to be in big, big trouble" I heard myself say, hoping that Friend's empathy would kick in and he wouldn't want his robot to get in trouble. We went back to math for a moment before once again Friend turned to his robot to whisper.
And now I had to punish the robot. The imaginary robot. I'd given him a warning, and now I had to follow through.
"Robot!" I heard myself saying not even realizing I wasn't speaking to a real human being, "GO HOME. No robots in school! Friend has to do his math" and at that I got up and opened the door. Partly to pretend I was sending the robot home, partly so I could laugh out loud in the hallway. This was ridiculous. I'd just yelled at an imaginary friend.
The robot might have been imaginary, but my frustration toward the robot certainly was real.
When I re-entered the classroom, having assured myself that I was not going crazy, I found Friend happily chatting away with his robot. After several more attempts to get back to our math game Friend and I ended up walking to the office. Not because Friend was in trouble, although if I'd let it go on any longer I was worried he would be. I figured that 1) I needed a walk before I started yelling at an imaginary robot again 2) Our amazing administration needed a good Friday afternoon laugh and 3) maybe, maybe hearing the "bosses" say that the robot was not allowed in school would hit home.
I think I bit my lip so hard it almost bled. As we walked back to class I felt myself relax for the first time in weeks. Robot just reminded me of exactly how much I love my job.