Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Comic Introduction to my Classroom- Chucky Baby

Okay, so I'm not a blogger, but I have a tremendously difficult time keeping in touch with people and, while it's not the same, it helps me update people on what's going on in my life. :) I always thought Ashleigh Howard's Prague/Europe blog was hysterical and my kids do lend themselves to moments of hilarity.

So...being a teacher has been unlike anything that I could have possibly thought before I began this job. Firstly, my kids lead such incredibly different lives than I have ever led. Back in August, when I started I was incredibly naive, a fact which just keeps popping up repeatedly.

We'll begin with the "Chucky Baby" story, which if you have read my "Conversations with 4-year-olds" note on Facebook, you have read, but I'll go into greater detail here.

So, I have about 15 multicultural baby dolls in my classroom. You may think, baby dolls? However, (watch out, nerd alert, but you all knew that would come) research demonstrates that dramatic play is the arena in which children acquire the most oral language and that a strong foundation in oral language is a key factor in later literacy. If you met my kids, you would quickly realize that oral language is probably their number one downfall. Only about 5 of my 20 kids are really very verbal. Sadly, I've met two-year-olds with better communication skills than my kids. Moral of the story- if you have children- TALK TO THEM!!! at the beginning of the year, one of the few smart choices I made was not to put all 15 babies out at once and to just rotate them out. So, I tried to pick out an array of babies than reflect a variety of genders and races. One of the babies is this little redheaded, white doll dressed in red overalls. No joke, this thing looks like Chucky. It freaked me out a little bit the first time I saw him, but I thought, a 4-year-old won't know who Chucky is, it'll be fine. HA. Little did I know that Chucky happens to be a movie that most of my kids have seen.

But it's December and no one has pointed out this doll's resemblance to the murderous My Buddy doll and I figure that it must just be me who sees this. Then, one day in the middle of work stations, while I'm giving an assessment to one kid and the rest of the kids are working, Jose comes running up to me.

Let's stop for a moment and talk about Jo. The story is so much better if you know him, or at least know about him. This kid kills me. This is my student who has zero control over himself; he may be the ADHD poster child. When Matt's (my carpool buddy and fellow TFA teacher) fifth grade class came to read to mine for the first time, this was the kid who freaked out the fifth graders because he just kept screaming "Never!" over and over again and laughing manically. He's also the one who has an excessive amount of saliva and drools all over everything- not just a little bit of drool, either, but puddles of it. He's the one I had to ask to get his head out from underneath my skirt during dismissal and who has gashes on his arm because he fell asleep while walking and fell into a rosebush. Jo is the student who didn't recognize his name for the first 3 weeks of school because at home they call him Sexy. He has frequent body spasms of hyperactivity. This kid is a piece of work. But he is funny.

So, Jo comes tearing up to me during workstations, screaming, "It's the Chucky baby! It's the Chucky baby!" Clearly, I need to react in some way to this situation, but while many things have happened in my classroom, this is a new one. Before I can do anything, Jo has run back to the Dramatic Play Workstation, which is a kitchen unit, with the "Chucky Baby." As I'm walking over there, Jo yells, "I'm going to kill it! I'm going to cut its head off!" He slaps the baby down on the table, grabs a plastic play knife and proceeds to attempt to saw off the baby's head. At this point, I realize that it's time to confiscate Chucky Baby. I ask Jo to give me Chucky Baby, which he willingly gives up to me. I say, "Jo, say bye-bye to Chucky baby because he's going back in the box." And, just like those creepy little kids in horror movies, Jose says, "Bye-bye Chucky baby." As I'm putting Chucky baby away, he begins screaming, "It's alive! It's alive! It's alive!" At this point, I hand him a nice African-American and a lovely Asian baby, much safer choices, I think.

So, if you're a horror movie director and you want to make your production a little more diverse with a Hispanic kid, I've got the perfect kid for you.