Currently Tuesdays are a marathon for me – 5 classes of pre-schoolers back-to-back between 10am-1:15pm. Each class gets the same high-energy story-telling and acting experience. So by the last class, Ms. Amy is usually feeling a but exhausted and maybe a little sick. Being pre-schoolers, these kids are beautiful, loud, wriggly little creatures full of questions. They also have very small lives, meaning that the number of people they meet are quite limited, as are their experiences. Think back to the last time you observed a 3 year old. It is a monumental accomplishment just to put on your shoes, let alone remember the random lady who comes in once a week. Yet these kids remember my name, ask me if I brought the three bears or the billy goats gruff with me, and want to know if my cold is "all better." This week, week 4 with these groups, brought along a monumental shift in their perception of me. I have become touchable.
There is a distinct moment when working with small children when you become . . . tangible. This usually manifests itself with little girls playing with my hair. They will just reach up and touch my hair as we sit in our circle, or they will come up behind me as I work with other kids. It doesn't bother me at all, it just makes me laugh. Today I became touchable and in each class kids tried to sit in my lap, play with my necklace, or give me a group hug. One little boy sat beside me and proceeded to wind the corner of my sweater into a ball all through class. I asked him if he was ok, and he just looked at me and nodded, then kept on winding.
My moment of zen for the day came as I was leaving one of the classes, though. As I walked towards the door, one boy asked his teacher, "Where does she go?" "To her next class," the teacher replied, " and then back to work" "Back to the theatre?" As odd as it sounds, the fact that a 4 year old boy remembered that I was an actress who works at a theatre was incredibly validating to me. I'm not just another teacher-type person who comes into his classroom. His small world has expanded to include a theatre, and that, after all, is the whole point.