“I wanna to be a toad so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day.”
–First grader

Because of scheduling changes I have been switched from reading with a few second graders to now first graders. Walking into the first grade room was utter chaos. Every inch of wall was covered in letters, numbers, pictures. There were clusters of children working on different things. Loud noise was booming out of the tape recorder where a group of students was listening to a book on tape. The room was abuzz of chattering children all seeming to be speaking in one long chain of vibration. Another table of students where each student was cracking an egg into a bowl. My senses were overwhelmed. And on top of it all, it was pajama day, so I think this may have added to the frenzy.

The teacher was kind and calm. She asked how I’d like to be referred to, since I had given my first name to her when she asked. “Ms. Rebbecca is fine,” I said. She introduced me to the first student I would sit with. “S, this is Ms. Rebbecca. She is going to listen to you read. Here take your books with you. See you in a little bit.”

With the second graders, I had selected books for the students to choose from. With the first graders, the teachers send them with their packet of books and word lists for review. This works out well. I may occasionally bring along a book that may be of interest. I’ll have to see where the rhythm falls, how it unfolds.

The boy student was quite a character. He made me laugh and was not shy about talking. When I asked him which book he wanted to read first, he said for me to pick it. He chose the next book. It was so nice to see him pull the book from his packet, his eyes widening, and say “this is one of my favorites, I love this book,” and he read it to me. Since he knew this one well, and it was a rhyming story, he read it with ease.

It was time for me to take him back to class. As we were getting ready to leave, still full of energy in his manner of speaking and twisting his body, he said,

“I don’t like school.”

“Why don’t you like school?”

“Because it’s a lot of work. You’re an adult. You don’t have to do anything.”

“Well, I go to work after this.”

“Work–adults just move things around.” He made a motion of moving papers around on a desk. “That’s not work. School’s a lot of work. I wanna be an adult so I don’t have to work so hard.”

“Well, you’ll be an adult one day.”

“I wanna be a toad, so I can stick my tongue out and eat all day!”

“Ah, you want to be a toad…”

The recess bell rang as his last thought trailed off. We exited the library as students dribbled out to the hallways. We approached the door to his classroom–back to his world of work.

As I took a short walk during recess before returning to sit with the last student of the morning, I couldn’t stop smiling at the utter beauty and innocence of childhood and catching glimmers of my own elementary school memories, albeit quite dusty.

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