Friday, February 1, 2013

My Kids

They weren't mine, but I considered them so. For one school year I was assigned to help teach second graders, as part of my college course. At that time I was into science, and that is what we did.

I brought them a really old 5 x7 inch folding camera with a viewing screen. The room was darkened and they peered under a black cloth at the image of a burning candle. "Why is the candle upside down?" they asked.

I brought a 15,000 volt neon sign transformer to show them how its arc traveled up spread rods like in the Frankenstein movies.

A huge magnet mounted on wood was used to pattern a tray of iron filings. They could see its magnetic field. We learned what is attracted by a magnet and what is not. I made up a simple test on magnets for my seven year old friends. The teacher charted it and said, "A perfect bell shaped curve," concerning the results.

Demonstrations were set up and an older class was invited. The morning of the demonstration my car was so frozen it would not start. So the children did it themselves. They had learned so well!

Christmas had come and children showed me some of their gifts. "They want to show them to you," their teacher explained. A girl showed me her old fashioned hair dressing set. "You even have a hair receiver," I told her.

I learned to listen to them as they told their stories. Some of the boys were stressed. Drawing pictures was not for them, but I told them to be patient. They could do it. One of the girls was traumatized and did not speak. When gifts were exchanged she brought a broken comb with hair in it. The child who received it began to cry. The teacher quickly gave her a present she had brought just for the occasion.

It was not all science. There was time to listen and learn about them. I found just plain being quiet once in awhile really helped.

The year's end came. It was time for me to depart . The teacher asked them to draw a picture for me. A Jewish girl was named Deborah. I told her she should be proud to be named with the same name as Israel's only woman judge. She drew me a lion. I looked for the sun. I knew it was a father symbol in drawings, and saw that some had a big, bright sun, others had a cloud over the sun, and some had no sun at all.

I left these great kids at the end of the school year and never saw them again. They are in their late forties now, but I will always think of them as seven years old. I still have the pictures. A rather frustrated boy had written on his, "You are an understanding man." That is what I had tried to be.

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