In my job as a miner of our greatest natural resource, children, I sometimes wondered why the world needs comedy writers. All I had to do to get my share of tender chuckles is to listen as children provide the sparkling gems to keep life in perspective. They spout off ‘natural humor’ without blinking an eye–a skill which comedians say takes lots of practice.
When kids walk in a classroom, they are passing the flame of authority from the home to the school. Sometimes this gets complicated. A tiny tot who knew he was supposed to do a certain puzzle when he first arrived piddled around a bit too long one day. When I urged him on with a stern look he said, “I’ll do my vegetables” meaning, of course, his puzzle. His mother must use the same look to mean “Eat your veggies!”
Students enjoy it when teachers mess up a bit. English books get mighty complicated by mid-year. One day, I got the students together and told them that we were going to do conjugation of a verb. A child gently clarified I meant congregation. Hmm, I guess they don’t study verbs at his church.
Not to be outdone, a tutor was expounding on reasons for re-writes. She took one piece of paper and wrote Rough Draft but on the other side write Real Daft, having meant to put Real Draft. The student was in too much grief over the idea of writing something twice to even notice that the tutor was a bit daft for a moment. Come to think of it, we must be daft to think kids would want to write something again after finally getting it down on paper once!
During Social Studies, today’s kids are not at all accustomed to the strong male emphasis in history. They’re used to seeing men and women’s names bandied about freely when talking of accomplishments in modern society. I was startled one day to hear a kid singing Daisy Crockett at recess. Another day I caught a chorus of Jenny Appleseed. I’ve heard of sex change surgery, but can it be retroactive?
Science class gives its share to the funny bone. Taking his turn reading the text, one scholarly fellow carefully sounded out the word earthquakes, emphasizing the ear portion of the word. After being told how to pronounce the word, he bravely hung onto his original concept by asking, “I wonder if earthquakes affect your ears?” The moral is: it’s hard to break a good chain of thought. Then there was the lab report a child read to us of several unsexful attempts before the experiment finally turned out right.
Lunch outside at picnic tables offers the richest entertainment to a teacher who can quit teaching long enough to enjoy the magic of childhood. One mother dropped by for a minute on a chilly day and mentioned how she’d love to have a mink coat. A boy responded that he would rather have a cherry coke. A girl later told us that her dad was inspecting his boss for dinner so they had cleaned the whole house last night.
Recess a few years back saw my students helping clear hurricane debris from the play area. One day while watching an 18-wheeler wrecker pull up tree stumps and feeling the power of danger, a boy told an interesting story. “My dad saved a guy with a bottle of pneumonia one time. His friend passed out and he made him smell it from a bottle. It was at an instruction site.”
Several girls were chatting on the playground and one said her mom told her tht her older sister was going through a phrase.
Every person alive has found tender amusement at the clumsy tumbling mistakes of a baby learning to walk. Yet few of us know we can stop to enjoy the shining logic and wonderful humor after babyhood as they make normal errors while learning. All of us, like babies, must err to learn. The next time you hear yourself or a kid make a bobble, just remember you won’t be needing a comedy writer that day!
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission from author for use online or in print.