Three year olds are like beach balls. They’re round and bright and colorful and when you release them into a hallway, they basically just roll around and until they bump into the walls. I know this because during my second day back at The School (aka, the morning after The Show), my boss came down the hall with five such beach balls and asked if I’d take them to the bathroom.
Technically speaking, the teaching artists aren’t supposed to chaperone bathroom breaks, but everyone once in a while the classroom teachers have their hands full so it falls to my boss or to one of my co-workers from the arts classrooms.
I can handle two or three kids in the bathroom at the same time but I’d never supervised five three year olds simultaneously. They came tumbling down the hall with my boss, who prompted deposited them into my care, and proceeded to roll right on past the bathrooms.
“Come back this way, friends,” I instructed them, so they turned around, crashed into each other and finally managed to stumble into the girl’s room.
Unfortunately, they weren’t all girls, so I had to escort the boys out of the girl’s room and into the boy’s room and then mediate an argument about which two of the three girls got to go first. (There was a bit of shoving in the interim but then one of the more assertive beach balls informed the others that she had said she had to go first and that settled it.)
Beach Ball #3, who then had to wait for the other two to finish, promptly attached herself to my legs and told me she wanted her mom to come pick her up. I responded with my usual, “How about we learn a really nice dance in dance class today so you can show your mom when you go home?”
(Which is three-year-old speak for “Please don’t start crying, PLEASE DON’T START CRYING!!!”)
Thankfully it worked.
The first year students haven’t quite figured out how to line up or how to “follow the leader” or how to wash their hands so after escorting each of them back into the bathroom to wash their hands for real, I told them we had to MARCH back to their classroom because marching requires concentration whereas walking leaves way too many brain cells for devious behavior and general beach ball bumbling.
(And lest you think I’m trying to conduct some sort of covert military indoctrination here, marching is only one of the many tricks I have up my sleeves. We also “tiptoe like mice” and “waddle like penguins.”)
(Also, if you suspected that this post was simply a rouse to buy myself some time in order to figure out how to chronicle the next installment in my love life, you’re right: there’s more. But it’s totally not what you think.)