From the Mouths of Babes by
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(191 Stories)

Prompted By Comic Relief

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Working with young children can be a stressful and sometimes thankless job. Preschoolers need constant attention, love, guidance, and empathy. Early childhood educators often find relief through the funny and endearing things their young charges do and say. Sharing these stories, often at our lunch break, gave us the energy to go back into the fray. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Early childhood educators often find relief through the funny and endearing things their young charges do and say. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Reminiscing with several dear colleagues/friends last week, we recalled the infamous baby cooking incident. Usually what we called back in the day the “housekeeping corner” was occupied by the girls dressing up, cooking meals, and caring for the babies. But occasionally, the boys would invade and occupy the space, which we all viewed as a good thing. That is, until we realized the appeal was that they were cooking the baby dolls on the pretend stove top and putting them in the play oven. One of the boys in this class had just had a sibling born, and I imagine many of the kids of either gender who had younger sibs would have enjoyed this activity.

During practice for the holiday concert for parents in one of our classes for four-year-olds, the teachers heard a faint jingling sound when their charges started to jump during a song. After much searching for the source, a boy confessed he had stuffed a jingle bell into his nose. “Why would you do that?” asked a teacher. “Because he told me to,” was the reply as he pointed to a friend. His mother took him to the pediatrician, who actually had an implement to remove such objects. Who knew?

What the children learned about monkeys

Another favorite involved the fire alarm when I was director of the church-housed preschool. The pull box was mounted in the hallway low enough for a child to reach, and sure enough a very curious little boy pulled it. The result was total pandemonium. Despite our pleas that it be located elsewhere, the siren for the new alarm system was placed in one of the classrooms. There are kids from that class, who are now parents, who recall the deafening noise as one of the traumas of their childhood. We struggled to get the hysterical preschoolers out of the building. So far, not very funny. But when the perpetrator’s father came to pick him up at the end of the day, he excitedly told Dad what he had done and, you guessed it, pulled it again to demonstrate.

At our new preschool every fall, even after I had retired, I visited classrooms to show the children the portrait of Warren Cherry, for whom our school was named, and share the story of my mentor. This painting hung in the front hall of the school, so the children saw it every day. I usually started by asking if anyone knew who this man was. Their guesses often made it hard for me to continue while stifling my laughter: Michael Jordan, Martin Luther King, and later Barack Obama were understandable. But George Bush, a king, or the Mayor of Evanston?

We always got a chuckle over the weekend news that one of the pre-kindergarten classes posted every Monday. Having had my granddaughter in this classroom, I knew that what she offered was often a fabrication, so I got a real laugh out of this edition in which Maya reported she, “made the biggest mistake of her life.” At age four, I can’t imagine what that would have been. I wonder if she remembers?

Although there were many more outrageous stories that were comic relief for the staff, there was an entire category of kids dropping F-bombs, dating all of the way back to my first teaching days in 1984. At the time, I had the three-year-old son of a good friend in my class. He was the youngest of four children and very adept at dropping “mother-F*!#ing” into conversations. After repeated warnings in my most patient teacherly voice, I called his mother and after a good laugh with her, the problem was solved. Another colleague remembered asking her class to make suggestions for classroom rules. A child piped up, “Don’t say bad words like f*!#.” Another time, a child took his shirt off and put on a cape to play super hero and then complained he was cold. The teacher suggested he put his shirt back on and he replied, “Why don’t you close the f*!#ing window instead!” Another time, a child was walking around the playhouse area repeating the F-word over and over and when asked if he knew what that meant he said,“It means I can’t find my keys.”

Preschoolers’ ideas about birds

I loved working with young children and will always treasure the moments of comic relief I shared with my colleagues. Art Linkletter was right. Kids do say (and do) the darndest things.

I invite you to read my book Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real, join my Facebook community, and visit my website.

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: funny, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wonderful stories, Laurie. Kids really do have vivid imaginations, do wild things because their friend told them to (love the bells in the nose), and say the darndest things. I used to love watching Art Linkletter too.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      I forgot you are in a different time zone, Betsy. Also forgot today is Saturday until I saw your comment. Between the pandemic and my stage of life, time and days tend to blend. Hope you are doing well and are healthy in London. By the way, I asked my granddaughter what she had done to make the biggest mistake of her life at age 4. If course, she has no idea!

      • Betsy Pfau says:

        We are well, just tested negative (again). And still waiting for our grandchild (due date was yesterday). Going over for a visit in an hour.

        Four is a great age, your granddaughter sounds wonderful. I have a cousin here who turns four tomorrow but I’m not even sure if I will have a chance to see her. Her father and grandmother are in the catering business and VERY busy now with the holidays. They need to work as much as possible before COVID shuts them down again.

  2. Khati Hendry says:

    Art Linkletter did indeed come to mind. Kids repeat what they hear and reflect ourselves back to us in ways that can make us laugh, or wake us up, or both. Fresh eyes, fresh mouths, fresh minds—the future is theirs. Thank goodness for everyone like you with a sense of humor and appreciation to help get them off to a good start.

  3. These were great and funny, and generally familiar reminiscences (as an early childhood teacher myself). However, my experience with the housekeeping corner was dramatically different from yours: the boys were just as likely to be there any given day as the girls, and they were equally eager to put on the high-heeled shoes and dressup clothes (as well as firefighters’ hats, sometimes at the same time) as the girls. No cooking of baby dolls in Dorchester.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      Well, they cooked them in Evanston. The boys also dressed up in finery. But somehow, in this classroom, the boys dominated the block area while the girls claimed the housekeeping corner. It was kind of sexist and the teachers encouraged them to mix it up. When they switched places, we got block homes with little ponies crammed in (last photo).

  4. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific story, Laurie. As you can imagine, I particularly related to this having heard the “war stories” of many kids’ comments/actions at Bank Street over the years.

    And I, too, like Betsy, thought of the old Art Linkletter show even before I finished reading all of your great little stories. Only I’m thinking it would need to be updated and entitled “Kids Say the Darndest F*cking Things” these days.

  5. Love it Laurie, and that last kid was right on – that’s exactly what I would say when I couldn’t find my keys!

    And BTW I usually kept those keys on a lanyard around my neck, but often when I took them off I I’d put them down and then couldn’t find them. Once as I was walking around cursing as I looked for them, a student said, “Miss L, they’re around your neck.”

  6. Marian says:

    I have been laughing out loud reading your story, Laurie. And I do remember Art Linkletter. Yes, according to Dick’s daughter, pediatricians are adept at removing items from little noses. My smiling moment came a few years ago when the 4-year-old girl next store (the more rambunctious of identical twins), came over to me and said, “Marian, I have something very serious to tell you.” “What’s that?” “I swallowed a quarter, and mommy had to take me to the emergency room.” I had to stifle my laughter because she was so serious. They just monitored her and everything came out fine, pardon the pun.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      The same thing happened to my friends daughter, who was 3 at the time. Her mom went into labor with her baby brother when we were out to dinner. As we rushed home, Rachel swallowed a penny. When the OB called, my friend relayed her daughter’s issue and he said that wasn’t his department. She thought he was the pediatrician. Like your neighbor, it all came out in the end.

  7. Suzy says:

    These are adorable anecdotes, Laurie. And yes, kids do say the darndest things – I was a big fan of that Art Linkletter show. I cracked up at the idea of a 4-year-old reporting that she had made the biggest mistake of her life. Too bad she doesn’t remember what it was!

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