Wednesday, March 28, 2012

SOLSC #28 They are listening

It so easily could have been me.
Honestly, I'm sure it was me once.  
I remember the feeling of embarrassment.

Children are listening to everything you utter.

The spoken gaffe, 
with every preschooler's rapt attention,
the teacher emits an exuberant,
"Oh, my GOD!"
And there is an immediate chorus,
some preschoolers jumping to their feet,
"Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"
The words are delivered with increasing enthusiasm, 
as everyone echoes the outburst.

I know this is inappropriate.
The new teacher, face stricken, feels it, too.

Children are cued in to the "rare," the "unusual" -
they won't miss these unexpected words.

I am immediately thrown back in time -
to my childhood...
if I had come home and repeated those words to my devoutly religious Mom, 
she might have slapped me for using the Lord's name in vain.

We can't let these little ones go home with that phrase, I think to myself,
We need to get back to the subject at hand...

The class was totally off point,
this was not what the new teacher intended,
an awkward, unexpected slip of the tongue.

I interject, 
"Let's all give a big 'Oh my! Oh my!,' "
and I raise my hands high in the air, to increase the excitement of my words,
to encourage their chorus,
and my little imitators chorus "Oh my! Oh my!"
and the moment passes,
the awkward pause ends.

I wonder why are we surprised when a child says something profane or "naughty"?
I wonder why are we surprised when a child hurts someone else or does something egregious?

I wonder, too, if dramatic play isn't the single best tool for teaching preschoolers? 

They are such sponges...and extraordinary actors, 
able to deliver words and actions in just the same way they heard them, 
that one time.


  1. Oh yes, they hear, they repeat and parents cringe. Telling the tale through poetry is such a challenge, but you did it so well.

  2. Such a true and difficult thing about working with young children - they are sponges so we need to be careful how we fill up that absorbent mind.
    When our daughter was just 18 months, she heard daddy use an inappropriate word and then walked around saying it for days! That was an eye opener for us too :)

  3. Nice save! I could see it happening and I love the way you turned it around. Fun story. Thanks for sharing.