Falling in love happens every day, all around the world. People fall in love with each other, their newborn babies, their cars, a pair of shoes and a job. People love their pets, their best friends, their cities and their hometown sports teams. In fact, now that I’m older, I realize that falling in love with things is pretty darn easy. It’s falling in love with a “true love” that is kind of difficult, and a bit hard to explain to the kids in a kindergarten class.
We spend an inordinate amount of time in kindergarten explaining things to the children. We have to explain many “firsts” for them — things like school rules, school routines, how to buy your lunch, how to close the bathroom door, how to go to the bathroom in the classroom without singing at the top of your lungs and how to solve a problem with a friend without punching them in the nose. Many of these lessons take a bit more explaining than others.
February is a month that comes packed full of “explaining” opportunities for teachers. We are talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Valentine’s Day, love and snow days. I have found that my teammates and I are explaining things that you would think wouldn’t need explaining.
• “Boys and girls, please don’t walk on George Washington’s head,” I said, as they ran past our gorgeous cotton ball/tissue paper/crafty creations.
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• “Do not put heart tattoos on in the bathroom.” We like to make sure the parents approve of any and all tattoos that 6-year-olds might want to sport.
• “Jack, please don’t spin the world around like that. We don’t want all the people to fall off.”
• “No, Ben, Dr. King does not play for the Nittany Lion basketball team, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t shoot the three-pointer to win the national title. But, I love the way you think.”
• “Jack said that a celebration is when you start going fast and you keep going faster, but I think he meant acceleration. Is that right, Jack?”
• “John, you might want to ask Emily to have a play date instead of going out to dinner. I know you want to do something special for her for Valentines Day, but I think in kindergarten a play date might be bit more appropriate.”
• “No, I don’t think the witch in the Rapunzel performance was wearing a magic omelet. I’m pretty sure it’s called an amulet. Not as delicious as an omelet, but a bit more beautiful.”
After explaining the details of the Valentine’s Day extravaganza set for the afternoon, I read the children a story called, “Somebody Love You, Mr. Hatch.” It’s a beautiful Valentine’s Day story that does an amazing job of explaining how you can spread love all around your neighborhood and then love will find its way right back to you. At the end of the story, Mr. Hatch’s neighbors throw him a huge party with a sign that reads, “Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch.” After I finished the last page, I closed the book and looked at the class.
That’s when Ben yelled, “Somebody loves you, Ms. Marsh. And it’s me!”
“And I love you, Ben.” I said as the other children shouted, “Me, too! Me, too!”
I realized then, as I do every year, that some things don’t really need explaining. Some things, like the love inside the walls of a kindergarten classroom, just are.