School Days and Preschool Days, Too:
A treasury of anecdotes culled from my work and play as a preschool worker and an elementary school after- school activities supervisor


ne of my preschool friends misses her mommy and likes to sit on my lap during play time. In her case, I feel that rather than being indulgent, I'm giving her comfort she needs.
      We've gotten to be very good friends. Some children come to feel like family.
      I use any diversion I can with this girl, anything to help her to lighten up a little. I'll tell her, "I'm your mommy!" or "You're my mommy!"
      One day we sat there, singing together about how we both wanted our mommies. That was the day I learned about her dog, Paco, because she sang some verses about him, too. She did still other verses about her daddy and her brother.

      I feel bonded to this little girl's whole family now when I see them. I give her mom "family news" when I share about her daughter's little adventures during our school days.
      One day the mom brought the dog when she came to pick the little girl up. Right away I went up, petted the dog, and said, "Hi, Paco," surprising the mom.
     Another day when I was at the lunch table with this child and several others, I asked her, "Is your mommy a good cook?" In reply, in her halting, 2 1/2 year-old English, she said, "You can come over to dinner!"
      "OK!" I said.
      "You can sleep over!" She continued.
      "Could I sleep with Paco?" I asked. She said that would be fine. I began imagining what would happen if I actually showed up at their house with my sleeping bag. The mom answers and I say, "Jennifer invited me to sleep over tonight!"
      Imagining that scene made me laugh out loud, and also called to memory an experience from many years ago. I was with my girl friend of that time and her 2 year-old son, at a booth at Mel's Drive-in, in Berkeley. The little boy was leaning over and poking his head into the booth behind us. That booth, it turned out, was occupied by Paul Krassner, editor of The Realist magazine and co-founder of the Yippie Party of the late '60s.
      Paul verbally embarked on an interesting line of speculation. How old, he wondered, does a person have to be before sticking his head over into the next restaurant booth is no longer cute but grossly inappropriate?

      The tie-in with my little tale above, of course, is the question of how old a child has to be before his or her "word" is to be taken literally. Once during Elementary Aftercare, I jokingly told a little group of 4th-grade girls that we could meet for a campfire and an overnight at a particular playground spot they had made their own. I felt highly embarrassed when, a few days later, one of the girls told me she'd actually asked her mother—who had of course said "no".
     I hope the mother knew it was a joke!

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