It's beautiful outside right now. I think I'll work kind of a short day, and go home around 1700. Yup, a civilian for nearly sixteen years and I still set all my timepieces to military time whenever I can.
It's a short day because I started off reading to the kids today. When I first started doing this the year before last I'd hoped for a class between Kindergarten and 2nd
grade. Like so many things in life, I've decided this is my favorite age. If for some reason I have to read to a different group sometime that will likely change. I read them a short version of the little Dutch boy -- finger in the dike -- which has images of beautiful oil paintings. Then we read Shel Silverstein's Where The Sidewalk Ends
. The first class had a blast, the second split their sides. You can't help but enjoying a day which starts with a long laugh with a bunch of fourth graders.
I remember my first trip to read to the kids. I was as nervous as I've ever been for a show. Even that first day was a blast, and I still start off the year with the same book, Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type
and an old typewriter for the kids to look at. It is fun to see the kids talk about the cool antique.
Now I look forward to Mondays, missing them on holidays and vacation. They still surprise me. When I started a short adaption of Kidnapped
I'd only planned to read the first third to try and get them excited about a classic, but not bore them with the whole book. The next week I brought in another book which they enjoyed, but both classes it turns out were looking forward to more from Kidnapped
. So I finished it over the next two weeks. Sometimes when they're quiet they are caught up in a story.
It's often like performing on stage, where they say kids can be the very best and worst of audiences. They will tune out and count ceiling tiles or chat if you're at all fakey
or bored. If you are with them they are usually an incredibly generous audience. This mornings read was a good example. Some of them were more interested in the story than others, but nobody seemed to be totally tuned out.
They love the poems. I do too. I stopped reading the poems ahead of time, and that is both challenging and delightful. They talk about making choices in acting and improv
, and when you read Silverstein
cold you better be committed. I do pretty well, usually finding a tone and speed which works. Mr. Silverstein
, was a genius. I'm discovering these lovely verses with the kids, and having as much fun and we're really at the same level for a bit.
How can you not have fun reading "He scratched his butt and he wiped his nose." from Paul Bunyan
? And you laugh with the same silly abandonment for the same silly reason? I can't imagine talking down to children without wanting, then working to do so. I get to play with them when I read, and I suppose that is being generous with them. Whatever it is, they are certainly generous with me.
I would have never become involved in this had I not gotten passionate about acting. I'm especially unhappy with my acting work right now. Even if I felt that way all the time, and never grew a bit more in the craft it would all be worth it just for the fun the children share with me. That's generous. It's what the world needs so much more of.