Recess on the playground of the Kindergarten, First & Second graders. We’re surrounded by expanses of a snowy winter wonderland. The play equipment that is usually strung with screeching monkeys is virtually empty. The slides, swings & tunnels are now occupied by the quietest kids. Despite the freedom of “Muahahahahaha…it’s all mine!” I would think it’s still a little unsettling having the place all to themselves. And boring.
Meanwhile, back on the range, three quarters of the kids have left the confines of the play equipment and ventured out into the fields of snow and the snow covered blacktop. Toys of choice: snow shovels (big ticket item), sand shovels & pails, their mitten covered hands. There were groups of kids making huge snowballs or adding to the ones from previous classes, piling snow up into random mounds, trying to make snow castles, snow angels, pushing the shovels around making trails on the blacktop and attempting snow football. It was so cool watching the kids just being kids. No toys and basic toys. Kids don’t need a lot when it comes right down to it.
So as I stood outside during the recesses, basking in the beautiful cold winter day I noticed two things. I hadn’t heard a lot of, “Teacher…so-and-so told me I can’t be blah-blah’s friend and she was my friend first.” (because Norman Rockwell wouldn’t have put that in this picture) and with the wide expanse of children all around me, it felt like I was in the middle of this commercial:
If I had put a big empty box on the playground I definitely would have caught a few
The sounds of playground ruckus & the fierceness that comes with it
I volunteered 2 nights for The Polar Express Rail Event that a friend was in charge of. I had the pleasure of tattooing children and serving hot chocolate. If I had grandchildren I would probably bring them to this event. It was so cute watching all the wee children (& some grown-ups) dressed in PJ’s & robes with all the excitement that comes with that age group. It was hard not to smile just watching them all. Before I left, a co-worker (from school) & I nabbed a couple tattoos to wear on our cheeks at school. The next day, one cheek was adorned with a blue snowflake and the other spelled out JOY. And this was the conversation with some 3rd graders in the lunchroom. “Are those real tattoos?” “Yes” “Nuh-uh!” “They sure are and they hurt when I got them. There were needles and blood and tears ‘cause I was crying. It was pretty painful!” Silence from the table…they were deciding whether to believe me or not. The first boy, “My mom & dad didn’t cry.” “Oh, they cried all right…they cried inside.” Second boy who knows way too much about tattoos, “It’s gonna hurt a lot more if you get it removed.” I just nodded knowingly and walked away. If you talk fast, think fast on your feet, say some believable words and also emphasize with hand movements; it’s amazing what you can get some of them to believe. It was about 70/30 on believe/not believe. Because let’s face it; if I’m going to get a tattoo it’s going to be a big blue snowflake & the word JOY on my cheeks…NOT! The next day they proved to be sharp as tacks when after 15 minutes they noticed my bare face. All I said was, “You were right! It hurt a LOT worse when I had them removed last night!” Then smiled and walked away.
At school you need to have a formal name for the kids to call you. I’m not used to being called the Mrs. Name…that’s my mother-in-law’s name. I prefer Elizabeth over Betsy although most of the people have known me as Betsy for so long that, understandably, it’s hard for them to change. I answer to both. One of the Kindergarten teachers (& another followed suit) introduced me to her class as Queen Elizabeth. I liked that! So now I have quite a few kids coming up in the ranks (word is spreading and some of 3rd grade is involved) who think I’m actually a queen. Common questions asked, “Do you live in a castle?” “Yes, my home IS my castle but we had to fill in the moat because it dried up one summer and the alligators died.” “Do you have a king?” “Yes.” “Is he King Elizabeth?” *ahahaha, silent snicker* “No, he’s King Gareth.” “Were you a princess first?” “No, I was never a princess. I went straight to being a queen.” “Are your daughters princesses?” LOL “Sometimes they act like one but no, none of them were raised as princesses. They will decide if they ever want to be a queen.” I recently heard from one of the Kindergarten teachers who wrote this to me: “So I was teaching my students about the letter “Q” today and while they were brainstorming words that begin with the /kw/ sound, they of course mentioned “queen.” I proceeded to explain that queens are the “heads” of their countries, but that we have a president here rather than a queen. One of my students said, “No, we have a queen here. Remember the lady who gave us the Kleenex?” ;)” (I passed out individual tissue packets to them on Halloween for their ‘treat.’) One first grade boy has recently started saying, “Hello your majesty!” He has a sly look in his eye whenever he says it (he’s an unusually bright little bugger) and I smirk right back at him. Once in a while I wonder what will go through the minds of all these kids when they’re older and they see me. Will they question my queen status along with the reality of Santa Claus or will I always be Queen Elizabeth to them much like the moniker of Queen Latifah? Either way, I’m having fun…and it’s a nice compromise to having a ‘proper’ title.