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


     Supervising 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 another animal.
      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.

"Definition of a Shark" continues on the next page

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