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
DEFINITION OF A SHARK
the preschool art table was occasionally part of my substitute-teaching
assignments this past year. Sometimes I'd be asked to xerox things like
an Easter egg or a spring-harbinger robin from a book for children to
color. Sometimes we'd do a simple cut-and-paste project.
A couple times I offered
to draw whatever animal each child requested, for him or her to color.
That was always fun. I filled requests for dinosaurs, unicorns, snakes,
and an occasional penguin, tiger or gorilla.
I should say it was fun except that after
awhile many children became more interested in my drawings than in their
own coloring. A little girl would spend maybe thirty seconds coloring
a unicorn that had taken me several minutes to draw, and then ask for
What had started out as an exciting adventure
for everyone, including me I'd never before drawn some of these
animals left me feeling, after about half an hour, like a burger-flipper
at a fast food restaurant during rush hour. In subsequent drawing sessions,
I simply stopped when I began feeling overworked.
Most of the children were delighted with
my rudimentary drawings. They seemed to consider me a on par with Da
Vinci because I could draw a snake.
Two twins, however, turned out to be
tough customers. They each asked me to draw a shark. That seemed easy.
I made my fish-shaped squiggle, made sure it had a big tail and enormous,
pointed teeth, and, magician-like or even rock-star-like, passed the
finished drawing to one of the two boys.
"DAT'S NOT A SHAAK!" the boys exclaimed
together in their barely- understandable twins' language that always
reminded me of two old men sitting on rocking chairs on a Brooklyn porch.
"It's not?" I asked.
"NO!" they repeated sharply, implying
my total ineptness at fish-identification.
I looked at my drawing. To me, a shark
was a big fish with huge teeth. What did these boys want? Was their
dad an ichthyologist or something?
Ah. Finally I saw my error. I'd neglected
to draw in the shark's dorsal fin. That, of course, is the other part
of its trademark besides its teeth. I added a huge fin on top of the
fish and proudly passed the piece of paper back to the boys.
of a Shark" continues on the next page
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