I volunteer to help in Smurf’s Kindergarten classroom for about 45 min per week, on most weeks. Usually, I walk around and help the kids as they try to trace their letters or read their little books. Sometimes I read a more complicated text to a small group of 3-4 kids.
Today one kid came up to me as I was reading to Smurf and another boy and point-blank asked if God were real. I was taken by surprise and responded, “Well, that depends on what you believe.” To which the kid responded, “No, that’s not about believing. My parents say that God is real.” Then Smurf chimed in, “My mom doesn’t believe in God, and neither do my brothers. Our whole family doesn’t believe in God.” I said, “Different families believe different things. Some families believe in God and some don’t, and that’s okay.” Another girl spoke up. “My family believes in God.” Mercifully, the teacher came by. “Yes, different families believe different things, and that’s all okay.” Somebody added, “My dad says I am too little to talk about God!” which I think might be the best contribution to the conversation.
I am now honestly a bit worried that the teacher will get in trouble for having me in her classroom when some kid goes home and tells their parent that Smurf’s mom doesn’t believe in God and says that different families believe different things.
I never know how much of a physical boundary I’m supposed to have with the kids.
One little boy came today and started touching my hair and asked what it was; I said it was hair (he is African American, so I am guessing my hair is different from his mom’s). He slowly pulled two strands on the two sides of my head, lifted them up, then let them fall, then picked them up and brought them together on the top of my head and said, “You look silly!” “Yes, I bet I do!” I laughed. But then another kid came and tried to pull my hair, and Smurf got upset. “Leave her alone!”
Some kids will come and want to climb onto my lap or give me a hug. I am not the teacher, so I honestly don’t know if that’s okay. One kid came up to me today and asked for a hug; I gave him a half hug and said I didn’t think I was supposed to give hugs to kids who are not my kid. I feel bad denying the kid a hug, but I’m not sure what the proper response would have been. I need to talk with the teacher.
Smurf goes to a public school. His classmates are all unbelievably cute.
I see that some kids come to school with just a cup of apple sauce for lunch (which my kid has for dessert, after an actual lunch). Some come reeking of cigarettes. About a quarter of the class has serious issues sitting still, and I wonder how much of it has to do with not getting enough sleep or not eating well.
One friend who is an elementary school teacher says that, for some of these kids, age 5 is already late. Their lives have been so stressful and so chaotic since they were born, that the brains didn’t get wired the way they would have in a more stable situation… And they face lifelong behavioral issues, inability to concentrate, poor academic achievement, the inability to soothe themselves, to manage their anger or frustration… It breaks my heart that some of them never really had a chance.