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Starting Drivers’ Ed A Little Early

, , , , , , | Related | January 10, 2022

When I was young, my mom picked me up at my preschool, but after taking me to the car, realized she needed to talk to the teachers about something. I didn’t want to go back in, so she told me I could stay in the car for a minute while she ran to ask my teachers a quick question so long as I promised not to leave the car.

Excited to be alone, I immediately headed up to the front seat and pretended to drive, as any young kid would do. I pushed all the buttons and pulled all the levers I could find, and one of those was the parking brake. Somehow, I successfully pulled it while playing, not realizing that it did something even when the car was parked. The next thing I knew, the car went rolling backward down the hill the parking lot was on.

It only rolled a little way before coming to a stop — we weren’t on that steep a hill — but I was still scared. Not wanting to be caught, I immediately crawled back into the back seat and buckled myself in, hoping no one would notice.

My mom seemed to take forever to come back out while I waited anxiously. In fact, she did come out almost immediately, but I’d rolled far enough back that she could no longer see the car behind the daycare building. She had run back in to ask for help when she thought the car and I were stolen before eventually coming far enough out to see where the car had rolled to.

She came and freaked out when she saw me nearly crying from worry. I tried to play it off as if the car had always been where it was and I didn’t know why she was concerned, not that she bought that for a second.

Luckily for me, she was so thankful I was okay that she didn’t care enough to punish me. And besides, I technically never did leave the car, as promised! However, it was quite a while before I was trusted to be alone in a car again.

Breast Not To Make Assumptions

, , , , , | Learning | September 4, 2021

My cousin used to work as a nursery school teacher. Her own son was one of the students in her class, and when he was about one year old, a parent wandered by the classroom, where my cousin happened to be breastfeeding her son at that moment. [Parent] looked around the room of maybe a dozen or so infants, confused.

Parent: “Do you… do that for all of the babies?”

My cousin had a good laugh about the parent’s misconception that part of her teaching duties included personally breastfeeding all of the babies.

That Four-Year-Old Is Braver Than Some Adult Editors…

, , , , , , , | Learning | May 4, 2020

It is spring 2004. A species of cicada emerges as adults every seventeen years in the Washington, DC area — DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.  

They are everywhere: trees, buildings, roads. And they make an eerie sound because of the billions of them that are trying to find a mate at the same time. When they emerge, they come out of the ground in their nymph stage, dry out, and then molt their exoskeleton one last time. Once they’ve mated, they lay their eggs in the outer twig-like branches of trees. In doing so, the egg takes its nutrition from the tree, killing off the outer twelve inches or so of every branch of the tree.

So, all of the Hitchcockian effects of this insect: little mounds of dirt where each cicada emerges, discarded exoskeletons, cicadas flying everywhere, eerie sound, and many trees’ outer branches dying off.

During this time, I’ve headed to my daughter’s preschool, which is a Montessori school. They’ve taken it upon themselves to make this Biblical insect plague a teachable moment. I’m walking up to the front of the school to check my daughter out for the day. I hear the playful squeals of kids in the back playground. But one little girl, about four years old, is standing out front, looking intently at something in her hands.

The girl holds up her hands to me, showing me the dried leaving of a cicada’s molt, and says, “Look, mister. An exo-skeleton!”

“Why yes,” I say. “That’s exactly right!”

It’s great that instead of being afraid, this girl and all her classmates now have a better appreciation of nature.


This story was featured in our May 2020 roundup!

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Maybe Mom Needs A Nap, Too

, , , , | Learning | March 20, 2020

(At our preschool, parents can pick their kid up as late as 6:00 pm. Therefore, unless the parent doesn’t want them to, we have the kids lay down after lunch for an hour or so to nap. On this day, I am with the four or five non-napping kids doing a quiet activity in a different room when a parent comes. The kid is excited to leave early, and the mom looks in the lunchbox. One of the lids to a Tupperware type thing is missing.)

Mom: “[Kid], where is the lid to your apples?”

Kid: “I don’t know.”

Mom: *looks at me* “Where is it?”

Me: “Um, it might be in the room where we ate lunch.”

Mom: “Which room is that?”

Me: “Across the hall, but everyone else is in there napping at the moment.”

Mom: “But it’s in there?”

Me: “Yes. I can go look when they wake up. [Kid], do you know where you might have put the lid?”

Kid: “No.”

Me: “Okay, I’ll look in there once everyone is awake.”

Mom: “But the lid is in there?”

(She seriously looked at me like I was supposed to abandon the kids who are awake, go into that room, wake everyone else up, and find the lid right then and there. Eventually, the mom and kid left. When everyone else woke up half an hour later, I went back in and found the lid in the trash can. Guess the kid took me saying, “Clean up your mess and throw away your trash,” too seriously.)

Hope For Humanity Dies At The End

, , , , | Working | January 28, 2020

(For an education class, I have to observe preschool children at play. I’m sitting in a closet-sized observation booth with two of my instructors, who are chatting.)

Instructor #1: “Did you see [Popular Movie] yet?”

Instructor #2: “I did! I can’t believe [Main Character] dies at the end.”

Me: “I guess there’s no reason for me to see that movie now.”

Instructor #1: “You shouldn’t have been eavesdropping.”