Once a Kindergartner, Always a Kindergartner.

Last year when my daughter was in kindergarten, I sometimes went to school a half hour before the final bell rang in order to read to my daughter's class.  During one of those visits, I read Leo Lionni's Frederick.  At the end, one of the boys asked, "What's a poet?" So the next time I came in, I brought a book of Shel Silverstein poems marked with the ones I thought the kindergartners would enjoy.  While I was reading, the teacher, Mrs. S. disappeared to the office.  I decided then to read a poem called "Something Missing."

I remember I put on my socks,
I remember I put on my shoes.
I remember I put on my tie
That was painted 
In beautiful purples and blues.
I remember I put on my coat,
To look perfectly grand at the dance,
Yet I feel there is something 
I may have forgot--
What is it?  What is it? . . . 

My four year old daughter who always came with me to class called out, "His mittens!" even though the poem is accompanied by a drawing of a man exposing his dimpled back end.  We all had a good laugh about that.

When Mrs. S. came sweeping back into the room she had black markers and shiny white paper. "Now children, I will give you paper to illustrate your favorite poem."  To my horror, I saw every kid in the class hunched over their papers in grave concentration, each drawing their version of a grown man's naked ass.

Fortunately time was up, and Mrs. S. instructed the children that they could finish tomorrow and to stack their drawings in the basket.  In the rush of getting coats and backpacks, she came up to me and asked what poems I had read to the class.  Mrs. S. has the power to make everyone feel like a kindergartner.  I fumbled with the book, trying to come up with the proper answer.  Oh, forget it, she said, I'll figure it out later.

I worried that evening, that night, all the next day, about the children finishing their unfinished drawings and Mrs. S.'s reaction and the summons I would soon receive to the principal's office. Finally, it came time to head to school to pick up my daughter and her friend, M., who was coming home with us to play.  It was a chilly day, so the kids were lined up inside.  I stood outside and waved to the girls to come out.  That's when Mrs. S. saw me.  "Just a moment," she said.  "Can I have a word with you?"

My heart was thumping, my breath short.  "Sure," I squeaked.  I stepped inside.  Some of the kids gathered around, eager to hear.  Mrs. S. glared at them, and they shrunk away.  She turned a frown to me, bringing her stern face very close to my quivering ear.  "I just want you to be aware," she said, "That M. wetted her pants today.  There were many tears."  She herself came close to tears, so thoroughly does she commiserate with her students.  I was so relieved that I was not in trouble, I gave her a hug and said, "What great news that is!"


  1. Hilarious! I love every element of this story.

  2. Outstanding, Outstanding. I loved this story. I could totally picture it and have had a few giggles over it all afternoon as I think back.