Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Working with kids reminds me of a t.v. program which aired when I was a child called "Kids Say the Darnedest Things". They tried to resurrect it several years ago with Bill Cosby as the host, but it wasn't the same. The difference was a large part of the childhood innocence which made it so amusing had been lost. Most it it seemed to have been replaced with knowledge gleaned from watching movies on HBO or from parents who forgot to lock their bedroom door.

The kids in the Summer Program, however, remind me of the original version of that show. I'm a towering 5'1" and yet I'm suppose to be in charge. They find that confusing at times. In fact, one of their favorite things to do is come stand by me and see how fast they are growing. I don't mind. I stopped growing, at least vertically, at the age of 12. Yesterday we had some new children, who were visually sizing me up in more ways than one as I was learning their names. One little boy, who was only 6, had the stocky build of a future football player. With that in mind I said "Wow, you're a big guy!" to which he instantly replied with a straight face, "Well, I eat a lot." Okay, I burst out laughing. Afterwards I explained I'd meant he was going to grow into a really big man. He nodded sagely, then said, "But I'll still eat a lot."

I get these little one liners at least once or twice a day. But a question posed to me the other day rendered me momentarily speechless. One of the new little girls, age 7, had been talking to me. Suddenly she sat down in a chair next to me and listened as I talked to other kids I've worked with all year long. With a perplexed look on her face, she turned to me very seriously and said, "Can I ask you a question?" Sure, I encourage that. Then with the honesty that only children possess she asked, "Are you a kid or a grown up?"

Inside my head, my ego fell onto the floor, rolled around and laughed hysterically. The braincell in charge of intellect pondered for a moment. Is it my height that made her ask that or am I not acting like an adult? The other girl I'd been talking to, a sensible 8 year old, put her hands on her hips, rolled her eyes and said, "She's a grown up." Then, without missing a beat she added, "She just didn't grow very tall." My ego hit the ground again, a second fit of giggles making me pound an internal fist, begging for mercy. Before I could offer an adult reply, the original questioner looked from the girl to me and said very sagely,"Oh. Okay."

Part of me wanted to ask that "intellectual" question...what do you see that makes you ask that? But then she grabbed by hand and asked if I would play a game with her. I said sure. After all, my ego was finished drying its eyes from tears of joy induced by a second fit of the giggles. Besides, playing is certainly more fun than being an adult.

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