Deedle-Deedle Dumpling

Harry is still wearing the crocs two sizes too big — sort of. When they fall off his feet, he just keeps on keepin’ on, and pays them no mind. Shoes or barefoot — what’s the difference?

This morning when he was getting out of the car, Harry fell in the mud hole we euphemistically call the parking lot. He landed on his knees with his forearms and hands in the mud. He stood up crying, tears mixing with the mud on his cheeks and dripping off his chin. His mama brought him in the classroom and we cleaned him all up. Once he was washed and in clean clothes (every child has at least one set in the classroom) we realized his shoes were missing. Mom retrieved them from the mud and we rinsed them in the sink (gotta love plastic shoes) and left them to air dry.

Harry didn’t want to stay in school. He was all for calling this day over and heading back to bed, but within moments we’d cajoled him out of it and set him down with his phonics. After the phonics the kids all moved to the morning welcome center for calendar activities. During calendar activities, the speech therapist came in and took Harry, AnaLee and Maddy for their sessions. About 30 minutes later Ms. Alyce realized Harry’s shoes were still by the sink. About 20 minutes after that, the speech therapist brought the kids back.

They were 10 minutes late, and we were waiting to do our daily alphabet aerobics (a little stretching and movement, a lot of singing alphabet songs). Ms. Shirley said, “I’m sorry we’re late. Harry’s shoes are missing. We’ve searched my office completely and can’t find them. He doesn’t remember when he had them last.”

Ms. Alyce told her that Harry had left the room — and walked clear across campus (and back again) without his shoes. Ms. Jewls said, “Harry, when you left, why didn’t you tell us your shoes were missing?

Harry said, “Cuz I didn’t knowed.”

Ms. Alyce handed Harry his shoes. “Put them on,” she said. He complied. Ms. Jewls told him to run to join his classmates because it was time for alphabet aerobics. Harry turned and dashed to his exercise spot. His shoes stayed behind where he’d been standing. Ms. Jewls called, “Harry, where are your shoes?”

He grinned big, pointed toward his feet and said, “Right here, Ms. Jew —.” He looked down, then back up, his eyes round with shock. “They goned again!”

Hmmmm. The field trips tomorrow and Friday ought to be fun.

Counting Fish

In November, Gordy couldn’t tell his numbers from his colors.  In January, Gordy discovered the power of three and he has remained stuck there for quite some time.  Just last week — the last time I worked with Gordy — his parting request was for three gummy snacks.

Today he arrived at the one-on-one table and sat down.  I had three Pepperidge Farms Fish beside some alphabet cards.  Gordy immediately counted the fish.  “Three,” he said.  I agreed, then handed him a fourth fish as a reward for his accomplishment.  We then went on to work with the alphabet.  We identified the letters in Gordy’s name.  We figured out their sounds, and we worked on remembering the “names” of the letters.  Gordy practiced writing his name.  He worked hard for about 10 minutes, then I told him he could go.

We have worked together long enough that Gordy knows no matter how many treats he has already eaten, he never leaves the table empty handed.  (We want the other kids to see their friend eating and want to work one-on-one.)  Gordy stood up, pushed his chair in, and pointed at the paper cup the fish were in.

I pointed at the cup, too.  “How many do you want?”  I asked.

Gordy stared at me very seriously, then he reached over, picked up the paper cup and spilled the fish out onto the table.  He counted them out loud, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven ….”  Then he counted them again, nodded his head and looked up at me.  “I want seven,” he said.

Loud and Clear

We came to the end of our alloted lunch time. Ms. Jewls walked around with the rubbish bin on wheels, the kids tossed their trash and prepared for step two — carrying their trays and whatever food products were left over to the food garbage bin. The five year olds know to stand up, then pick up their trays and walk to the disposal area. The four year olds need verbal reminders, “Stand first. Now pick up your tray.” The three year olds need hands-on help. Once they stand up, they can no longer reach the tray left on the table.

So imagine my surprise when the last kid sitting at the table is five year old Harry. “Yo,” I called. “Let’s go.”

Harry, not even trying to move, responded, “My shoes falled off.”

Well, of course his shoes fell off. He’d come to school that morning in love with his brand new Crocs, but by lunch time he was much less besotted. They were two sizes too big and had spent the morning tripping him up. I looked under the table. There were his shoes, four inches below his dangling feet. I said, “Okay, Harry, then you need to pick your shoes up and put them on.”

“Oh!” He said brightly. “I can doed zhat!” He scrambled off the bench, then bent over it and grabbed his left shoe. Next, he stuck his right foot under the bench and tried to slip the shoe on it. (If you have a mental picture of a very small kid curled around a bench trying to put his plastic shoe on the wrong foot, then I am telling this story well.)

“Harry,” I said, “Hand me your shoe.”

Harry continued lifting his foot toward his shoe. The higher he raised his leg, the further back he had to lean, moving his shoulder — and thus his hand — further from his foot. “Foot too far!” Harry wailed.

“Harry,” I put my hand on his shoulder and repeated. “Hand me your shoe.” Harry stood and gave me his shoe. “Thank you,” I said. “Now, hand me the other one.” Harry leaned over the bench again and reclaimed his second shoe. He gave it to me. I placed the shoes on the floor side-by-side. “Okay, now you can put them on.”

Harry stepped into his shoes and grinned up at me. “Thank you!” He said.

I told him he was welcome and directed him to pick up his food tray. He looked around and realized where we were. He also noticed that his classmates were gone. “Where frienz?” He exclaimed, startled.

“You were too slow.” I said. “They left us.”

“Hurry!” He admonished! We hustled across the cafeteria, dumped his tray, then walked to the big double doors. I opened the door and Harry stepped outside. This is were we usually line the kids up and count them before returning to class. Harry looked left and right. He turned to me and demanded again, “Where frienz?”

“You took too long with your shoes.” I said. “They left us. They’re probably already watching Sesame Street.”

Harry turned his whole body and stared down the sidewalk to the left. Then he turned his whole body and looked down the sidewalk to his right. Finally, hands on hips, he turned to face me and said, “Well shjt!”

Too Much Pressure

You know I am currently teaching special needs pre-K children. They range in age from three to five. Each of them has some degree of developmental delay. Preschool is designed to help them “catch up” cognitively with their peers before they enter kindergarten. Most of them succeed, but some of them will never bridge the gap.

David just turned five years old. This is his last year in pre-K, and his third year in Ms. Jewls’ class. After almost two years struggling with the concept, David finally potty trained. He has been out of Pull-Ups for a couple of months now with only one accident at school, and that while he was napping.

Today as we were getting ready for lunch, David was in line to wash his hands when he suddenly yelled, “Potty,” and turned to leave the room. Chez and K.K., goofing off as usual, were scooting across the floor on their bottoms and in his way. David got confused trying to go around them and burst into tears.

He stumbled past the junior acrobats and started to run, still crying — and peeing. He ran across the classroom, out the door and down the hall to the bathroom. Rather then standing in one spot and making a single puddle, he splattered and splashed all the way. Once he got to the bathroom he stood in the corner and cried. Ms. Alyce took his clean clothes and the baby wipes, and went to clean him up and tell him it was okay, accidents happen.

David wasn’t easy to console. What bothered me most was his little chant as he sobbed, “David stupid. David stupid. David stupid.” I guarantee he did not learn that in our room.

Tomorrow, When I’m Bigger

Gordy is a very serious and somber child.  He talks only when necessary.  He studies everything carefully before he makes any moves or decisions.  Lunch time is hard work.  There is food to look over and sort.  Stuff to eat and stuff to throw away.  There is how the plate should sit on the table, and how the food should be arranged on the plate to consider as well.  There is the fork and napkin to contend with.  They should be beside the plate, with the fork on the napkin just so until everything is arranged for eating.  The milk must be white, not chocolate.  If chocolate milk arrives it must be returned to the kitchen for the proper color.

Once everything is arranged to his satisfaction, then it is time to eat.  The milk is opened.  The fork is carefully placed on the plate.  The napkin is unfolded and arranged upon his knee.  I am not a psychatrist, but I see emerging OCD — except these wonderful moments of joy slip in.

Today Kevin was absent, so Mr. Jim sat in his seat, which means that Mr. Jim sat next to Gordy.  Mr. Jim was gifted with the job of cutting Gordy’s pizza into finger-sized wedges, except Mr. Jim cut it into bite-sized pieces!  Oh my, that was just wrong!  Then, Mr. Jim was enlisted to open the milk carton, but he didn’t just start the tear, he opened it all the way!  Poor Gordy.  He took this mishaps in sad stride, quietly reprimanding Mr. Jim then making the best of the culinary faux pas.

When lunch period was over and Ms. Jewls walked around the table with the waste bin on wheels.  Each child was instructed to toss his or her rubbish in the bin — napkin, fork and milk carton.  Then the food waste goes in a different bin and the trays are stacked to the side.

Mrs. Jewls approached Gordy.  “Toss your rubbish,” she said.  Jordy tossed his napkin, fork and milk carton.  “Anything else?”  Ms. Jewls queried.  Gordy gifted her with one of his rare, bright and shining smiles that showcases every tooth in his head and his tonsils, too.  He pointed at Mr. Jim.

“You want to toss Mr. Jim in the rubbish?”  Ms. Jewls asked.

“Yes!”   Gordy spoke clearly, nodding enthusiastically.

“Okay,” Ms. Jewls said.  “Go ahead.”

Gordy studied Mr. Jim.  Just one of the man’s arms is close to being Gordy-sized, then there’s the whole rest of him to contend with.  Gordy grabbed Mr. Jim by the hand and lifted.  “Ugh,” Gordy grunted.  He turned back to Ms. Jewls, still grinning, his eyes dancing with joy, and said, “Help me, please.”

Ms. Jewls pulled on Mr. Jim’s other arm.  Mr. Jim just sat there, letting them flap his arms around.  Gordy looked at me.  “You help, too, please.”

“Okay,” I said.  I put my hands on Mr. Jim’s shoulder and pretended to push as hard as I could.

Mr. Jim said, “Ho hum,” and yawned.  He covered his mouth with the hand Gordy was holding, easily lifting Gordy from his seat in the process.

“You know what,” Ms. Jewls said to a wide-eyed Gordy, “We may have to wait until you’re older and stronger to throw Mr. Jim away.”

Gordy nodded his head and let go of Mr. Jim’s wrist.  He looked up at the big man and very seriously said, “Tomorrow.”