I am constantly trying to get in the minds of kids; to understand what they are thinking and why they are thinking it. In order for me to effectively communicate with my students, I have to speak a language that they can process and similarly, be receptive to the language that they speak. Part of this involves recognizing that sometimes–or actually, often–what kids think is incredibly important seems so incredibly unimportant to the typical adult. Something that might make one of my kids scream in excitement might barely make me turn my head. And something that might make one of my kids weep might make me roll my eyes (hopefully only metaphorically). I have to over and over again remind myself that the things they think are emotional, scary, joyous, silly, and frustrating really truly are to them that way. Their feelings are sincere.
That being said: It’s not always easy to keep a straight face.
Setting: The end of lunch
B: [tearfully] Mrs. A, Mrs. A!
Me: What B? You seem upset.
B: It’s squirming in my brain!
Me: What? I didn’t understand your words.
B: For real! It’s squirming in my brain and hurting my head!
Me: B, what is squirming in your brain?
B: The caterpillar!
Me: B, how did a caterpillar get in your brain?
B: [looks down at ground and drops shoulders] I ate it.
Me: Oh no. Well, I’m so glad we have rest time now. Hopefully that will help.
Setting: Outside on the playground, an hour and a half later
B: [tearfully] Mrs. A, I can’t play!
Me: Why not B?
B: The caterpillar now squirmed into my bones so my bones hurt!
Me: Oh, I’m so sorry B. Where exactly does it hurt?
B: [pointing seemingly erratically] Here and here and here and here and here.
Me: Oh wow. Well, I really hope that caterpillar comes out soon.
B: Yeah. Me too. [sits down on the ground next to me]