Two boys run up to a girl on the playground. One excitedly pokes the other, begging him to “Tellllllllll herrrrrrrrr!”
In the same excited tone, the second boy announces to the girl that “I still loooooooooove youuuuuuuu!”
The girl, unimpressed by the excitement of her suitor and his wingman, turns away. “Whatever,” she says.
Ah, first graders.
I’m helping out my fellow AmeriCorps members with Cole Arts & Science Academy’s field trip to the Denver Children’s Museum. I’m assigned three girls, all of whom seem to be able to manage themselves, and a boy who, whether he needs it or not, demands my constant attention. I’m told where the teachers want my group to start out at the museum, which for my group is a room where kids can build stuff like crowns, helicopters, and cars out of recycled materials. It sounds like a cool idea, but my kids at least seem much more interested in fooling around with the various materials and tools, which include—to my concern—what appears to be a very sharp saw.
As I nervously watch the kids saw blocks of wood in half, I wonder what happened to child safety. Isn’t this the age of the helicopter parent? And yet there’s not even a museum staff member here to watch and make sure the kids don’t cut themselves. Well, even if they don’t create anything lasting, the kids seem to enjoy it. So much so that they forget about what they were originally interested in (i.e. visiting the Bubble Room, that realm of wonders where children can frolic amongst giant soap bubbles and the like). They’re not particularly happy about having to leave to go to a science program about sound waves (wanting, instead, to visit the Bubble Room).
After the science program, it turns out that there’s still some time to explore the exhibits. My three girls go to paint pictures, while the boy goes, of course, to the Bubble Room. The girls enjoy the act of painting, but don’t really seem to care about their artwork after they’ve finished it, abandoning it on the drying racks for it to be thrown away by a museum staffer a few hours from now.
Lunch is a chaotic affair, full of running around, fighting over who gets to go on the tire swing, and ranch dressing in a kid’s hair. The kids seem to enjoy it, anyways.
That said, it is a relief to get back on the bus and go back to Cole. The kids seem perhaps a little subdued (“a little subdued” meaning of course that they’re not literally bouncing off the walls).
All in all it was fun. It was great seeing these kids having fun and passionately experiencing the world. I’ve got to do something like this again.
Not for another month or so though. It’s going to take at least that long for me to recover.
– David Lev