Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Forced Merriment

I gave my second graders small notepads today – we call them their "Tiny Topics" notebooks. The idea is for them to carry these pads wherever they go, collecting ideas like pennies as they move through their day, jotting them down so they'll remember when it comes time to write. After handing out the notebooks, I gave the kids some time to decorate them. Each student received a small rectangle of construction paper to create a personalized cover, and they got to work with markers, crayons, and colored pencils. Then I remembered that I had a stack of stickers in my cupboard - scratch and sniff stickers, glitter stars, tiny sticker faces, animal stickers - and I thought the kids might like to add them to their notebooks.

You'd have thought that I was handing out puppies. Their eyes grew big and squeals of delight came from boys and girls alike. Their enthusiasm was so intense, it startled me.

And their reaction made me think of last spring, when the debate was on about our school budget, and I was in danger of being cut or assigned to a different grade. A fellow teacher asked me how I would feel if I had to teach kindergarten, and I was honest. I said, "I don't think I could do it." I'm sure I've said it in a post before, but I'm a low-key person, and the best kindergarten teachers get excited about everything. They do it for the kids. I just don't have the ability to generate that much forced merriment, or to say it more precisely, I didn't think I did. What I didn’t realize before – what I didn’t realize until Violet came along – is that show of enthusiasm doesn’t have to be forced. When I play with Violet, my own enthusiasm for small things surprises me. Her laugh, her smiles, and her interests generate and feed that enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter what the focus is – a stuffed animal, a block, a Tupperware lid, or an uneaten spoonful of food. There are times when I mentally step back for a moment, bewildered by the high, girlish excitement I hear in my own voice as I try to get Violet excited about this or that. Maybe my enthusiasm will dull with time. I hope not. I like being excited with my daughter, as excited as a second grader over stickers.

360 days old


  1. I can't believe that Violet is almost a year and that your blog is almost over. I've come to really enjoy keeping up with you and your family through your blog, since I don't get to talk to you every day anymore.

    Maybe we can entice you into another year??

  2. Maxine,

    Thank you so, so much for reading - it means a lot. I won't be doing any more posts here - I like that it has a definite start and an end. I might start up a new blog at some point - not a daily one - I feel like there when some days when I was working on posts when I should have been playing with Violet, but maybe a weekly/monthly blog? We'll see...but thank you again!