I experienced a typical example of the innocence of youth yesterday during my supervision of a Grade 1 (Year 1) class at yesterday’s Rewards Day at my local school. For those readers not aware, I volunteer, and have done for over 10 years, at our small-town school (grade 1 to 9) three days a week. I usually deal with the secondary students, but due to a primary teacher not being able to attend, I took up the challenge of assisting the usual teacher of this 22 student class. I am not entirely green to the ways of the younger ones as I taught the 1st graders Reading when I first started there.
The returning school bus yesterday afternoon was full of primary students, including the Grade 1’s. Sitting directly opposite me, right across the buses center aisle, were two little girls aged about 5. I had noticed that they were playing with a small teddy bear that belonged to one of them, and I asked one of them what the bear’s name was. “Harry”, I was told. I thought it a strange name for a toy bear, but I did not ask any more questions. I did notice however, the fact that the bear was being shared fairly equally between the two girls. That in itself was, I thought, interesting. I don’t think many kids share their teddy bears like this. They were of course, mothering it, as little girls tend to do.
After some time, I noticed that the teddy bear had fallen into the buses aisle. The gentleman that I am, ha! ha!, I picked it up and cuddled in my arms like a baby. Well, you should have seen the looks on the girls faces, as they went into fits of hysterical laughter. Amazing enough, they did not immediately try to retrieve the teddy bear, but just let me cuddle it. Obviously, I quickly gave it back and they thanked me while still giggling.
Shortly after this episode, the girl closest to me asked me how old I was. Before I go any further, I should let you know that I am 80 years of age, but most children think I am under 70. I don’t usually go into any great detail about my age when kids ask, I usually say I am really old, and this usually suffices. This 5 year old was not having any of that. She insisted to be told exactly how old I was, and when I said really old, she said, “What 90?”. I said I am not that old, I am 80 years of age. This seemed to satisfy her curiosity, until about two minutes later, she said, “That means you will be 100 years old in 20 years time”. I was amazed at that level of thinking and her ability to express her thoughts so clearly.
Those of you who have worked with this age group would appreciate the freshness, the innocence and the honesty of youth. Unfortunately, they usually loose much of this as they get older.
What this little episode clearly illustrates is why I enjoy working with kids as you regularly see things that both please and amaze you. What I can be sure about though, is the positive future that these two 5 year old little girls have ahead of them.