Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ways of Feathers (and such)

What an odd feeling: that I just finished testing my kindergartners for report cards, and here I am doing it again! At least my toils seem to be paying off, and my little hedgehogs are all putting thought to paper. At least, they are writing their lists of likes, which includes:

"I lik pig, cat, igloo, Centers, Jan Brett..." (Their likes seem to be somewhat restricted to things that are posted around the room!)

Yesterday as we were leaving the classroom at the end of the day (still a feat of strength, complete with the sort of stalling that only a pack of wild five year olds can do), Limited English Speaker discovered the joys of New Student's down jacket. New Student has an unusual name, and the best Limited English can do with it is to call him "Bone." So, he happily yelled out to me, "Hey teesher, Bone's losing he feathers!" as he pulled a bit of fluff from New Student's jacket. This spawned an attempt by every member of the boy's line to pluck New Student frantically, causing him to twist in circles while yelling, "I'm NOT BONE!!!" Down the hallway we went, Limited English asking the whole way, "Why Bone losing he feathers? Hey, why I not have feathers? Bone a bird? Ahahaha..."

There is a little girl in my class who has probably been absent for a third of the school year. She is a beautifully angelic, quiet, polite little girl. She also, unfortunately, is one of my handful who has had DCFS involved with her family in the past weeks.
She came in today, and I took the kids out to the playground for PE. Usually, she stands silently by my side the entire time we are outside, hands shoved in her pockets, staring. Today she did the same, silently standing beside me and bearing witness to one maniacal child after another wreaking havoc on their clothing.

Until, she suddenly sprang for the monkey bars. I have never seen her move so fast. The other kids who were on them were so surprised; they backed away, and watched. She moved quickly, going many feet over my head to the top, and then shimmying up the pole to the upper support beams. She scootched up onto her knees, closed her eyes, and without expression, let go of the bar and held out her arms as if she were going to fall forward.

I couldn't breathe. What was God tossing at me now?

Everything stood still- the other kids sat on the platform below her with their mouths open. I placed myself underneath her, and too scared to talk (I thought I'd startle her off her perch) just waited. And asked every guardian angel of every child present to be with me now.

Seconds ticked by.

Finally, she opened her eyes, and without changing her expressionless face, placed both arms beside her, slid back down, climbed down the stairs and resumed her position. I knelt down in front of her. She looked at me and said, "I didn't zip my coat." I zipped her coat, and I looked into her face, and wished I could take her away from whatever was causing her to be way too old for kindergarten. She stared back, unblinking.

No comments: