There’s nothing sillier than a five-year old. When mine were that age, every bodily function was an absolute hoot. They watched that big purple dinosaur and sang “I love you/you love me/we’re a happy family.” Five is the year my son learned how to put a VCR tape in by himself. That winter, he got the stomach flu and binge watched “The Little Engine That Could” like his own daily affirmation until he quit barfing. In addition to the little engine, he was obsessed with space aliens. My daughter, by comparison, was obsessed with all things pink. Pink bedroom walls, pink shoes, pink, pink, pink. Five was still being tucked in at night. It was fluorescent orange macaroni and cheese from the blue box and learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Five was kindergarten. It was Mrs. “Ostrich” for one, and Miss Polly for the other.
Do you remember your own kids at five? Or fourteen? What about eighteen or twenty-one? It all runs together once they’re gone until someone or something reminds you of who they were.
I was reminded of Five this morning. A young woman I know teaches busy, silly, loud, barf-y five-year olds. She creates magic with construction paper, glitter, and a special paste in a huge white tub that smells like wintergreen. When she isn’t teaching them, she is herding them like a mother Mallard. Kindergarten teachers are required to herd. I think there’s probably a herding clause in the contract. When she isn’t teaching or herding, sometimes being a kindergarten teacher makes her cry. Sometimes, it’s the complete silence and cooperation of ducklings during a school “lock down” that does it.
Our nation is reeling from a school shooting. Again. I’ve written about this topic too many times. Again, and again. I’ve written about it as I’ve inched closer to my own retirement. I’ve written about it as my daughter, the middle school teacher and her friend, the kindergarten teacher, have graduated from college and started their own teaching careers. I have loved being a teacher since the first day I stood at the front of my own classroom. This was over thirty years ago. Back then, the idea that teachers and students would have to be trained to prepare for “active shooter” situations would have been as unfathomable as being required to prepare for an invasion of little green men from Mars. And yet, here we are. On planet Earth. In the United States of America. In the year 2018.
Here we are. Again.