Thursday, October 27, 2011

jet planes can be dolphins.

I was sitting at the table with one of my anti-sleep preschoolers today during nap. “How do you draw the letter B?” he asked. I drew a B on a piece of paper and told him it was kind of like drawing two circles together. After he had written his own B, and I had praised him for it (it really was a great B), he said, “But my B doesn’t look like yours.” I went on to explain, as best as I could, that everyone’s Bs and letters look different, but that’s okay.

Afterward, he decided to draw a roller coaster, and had me draw a car on the roller coaster – and then, for some unknown reason, a jet plane. Somewhere along the way, in joking, I said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” My preschooler looked at me and said, “You can’t be me – that’s against the law. But you could be an animal.” “Okay, I want to be a dolphin,” I told him, as he proceeded to color in my sad depiction of a jet plane. “How does that look?” he asked once he’d finished coloring. “It kind of looks like a dolphin,” I laughed.

The mind of a four-year old is pretty interesting, to say the least. Random, silly, funny and creative. So very creative. Not everything makes sense, but it doesn’t matter – it makes sense to them. There’s no reason a picture that started out as a roller coaster ride can’t involve a jet plane and three dolphins (that happened to look more like fish with wings). There’s no reason scarecrows at the pumpkin patch can’t be sad and fight off dragons (I heard this one in our story-sharing time last week). There’s no reason why scribbles and random letters on a page can’t be a story about Halloween or a fairytale. There’s no reason, at least according to a four-year old, why a person can’t grow up to be an animal. And there’s no reason why all our letters need to look exactly the same.

It fascinates me. Every day. The honest creativity and the wide variety that exists in my classroom. And, while I know having my kids “write” and “read” their one-of-a-kind stories aloud and tell me about their drawings is actually beneficial to and fun for them, it’s also something I enjoy as well. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

I’m beginning to think that’s why I seem to fit in well with the preschoolers. Our way of thinking. There’s no right or wrong, really. Just different ways of thinking about things, of seeing things. We were striving for a jet plane and got a dolphin instead. Our Bs looked different. But it doesn’t matter. What does matter, though, is the willingness to consider. I hope that’s one of the many things I’m teaching my kids – not so much rights and wrongs but the differences in between. Actually, I think they’ve been teaching me.

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