Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In The Bizarro World Hugs Flow Like Water

Holy cow, I love the Pre-3 Circle Time.

I start with a song that 2-year-olds find hilarious. I sing:

I’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.
I’ve been waiting for you to come to this place.
Where ever you’re from
I’m glad that you’ve come
I’ve been waiting for . . .

You and you and you and you and you and you and you and you and you to come to this place.

This song goes on to remind the children of the things they did that day, but it’s always the chorus of “you and you and you and you . . .” that seals the deal. They think its funny when I point at each of them in a rapid-fire motion and many children point back at me. Some of them literally roll on the floor in laughter.

We then launch into 2-3 large motor songs, like:

I’m gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out. (We shake our arms.)
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out and wiggle my waggles away.

I’m gonna clap, clap, clap my crazies out . . .

I’m gonna jump, jump, jump my jigglies out . . .

I’m gonna yawn, yawn, yawn my sleepies out . . . (We lie down on the floor.)

I’m gonna shake, shake, shake my sillies out . . .

By now they’re focused so I get them on their bottoms and we go through the day’s featured songs, which currently are our Halloween songs. Like with most of the songs we sing at Woodland Park, they’re a hodge-podge of my own loose interpretations of what I’ve learned from other people.

We tend to stay in a seated position and do a lot with our voices, hands and expressions during this portion of the program, which can be a challenge for the guys who like to be moving their whole bodies. This year it also seems to be viewed as a time during which Teacher Tom is easily accessible, which has resulted in a wonderful outpouring of spontaneous, mid-song hugs and affection. Yesterday was a perfect little love-in.

Circle Time started with Oliver attempting to snuggle with me as I sang the greeting song. During our Halloween songs, Violet was the first to come forward to hug me, but it was Miriam who was alive with love. She must have hugged me a half dozen times during that ten minutes of singing, interspersing herself with her friends, culminating in Aedan sweetly laying his cheek against my knee in the warmest armless hug imaginable. What worked is that the kids intuitively took turns, coming to the front of the room to hug me one at a time, which allowed the group singing to go on unabated. It’s the kind of behavior that can get out of control and need to be curtailed, but yesterday it just flowed like water. And when it’s flowing I’m not going to be a stickler for protocol.

I like to finish with the felt board, which is pretty reliable for regaining any attention we lose during the seated songs. Yesterday, it had the added effect of creating a bit of barrier between me and the children, stemming the tide of mid-song huggers. But that was only temporary because everyone knows what happens after we sing:

Boom boom
See ya later
Later alligator.
After while
Bye for now.

That’s the signal for our end of day germ swapping hug fest, as almost all of the kids come forward for a goodbye hug. It’s a Pre-3 tradition that goes all the way back to my first year teaching 2-year-olds. I’ve never asked for hugs at the end of the day, but I’ve always received them. It starts as a trickle of children, but by this point in the year it’s most of them coming toward me across our blue rug, arms in front of them, looking a little like a scene from a Bizarro World movie about hug seeking zombie children.

Some charge forward the moment I say, “Bye bye everybody. I had fun with you today!” throwing themselves into my arms. Others who arrive on the scene later, wade right into the crowd of children around my knees, including several of their friends in their hug. Some hang back, looking for an opening. And a few wait until the initial knot of huggers breaks up altogether in order to get their own moment. Yesterday Owen came back again and again. Violet often tries to climb onto my lap. Remick is working hard to add a kiss on the lips to the routine, and I can tell he’s dissatisfied with the peck on the cheek I’ve been giving him instead. A few of the kids aren’t quite ready for the full hug, electing instead for a high-five. More kids want both the hug and the high-five.

When I reflect on it, I really am living in a Bizarro World of my own. In the past 8 years I’ve gone from being a guy who rarely hugged anyone other than his female relatives to being a man called Captain Superhugger. Hardly a day passes without someone forwarding me some kind of hug related news or a “free hugs” video.

Right now I’m in the middle of a group of people trying to build a “hugging wall.”

Everywhere I turn hugs have become a central part of my life. But of course, it started right here at Woodland Park where the hugs flow like water.

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jlo said...

Nothing better than a hug from a kid. Especially when you know it might be the only hug they get that day. I Love that you are a man teaching pre school. I loved my girls' pre school so much. It was such a special place and I often felt so inspired by what they did for my kids. Being an elementary teacher...the demands are so different. It takes a special person to teach pre school. Clearly, you have it.

Pumpkin Delight said...

It's a good thimg you are not ticklish with all that leg lovin'. I would be hanging from the lights. Even in 2nd grade we are on the carpet a lot, but the hands are kept to themselves for the most part (except of course beauty parlor which happens A LOT this year)but every-so-often I get one who touches my feet/shoes and ankles...I get the wiggles just thinking about it.

Eternal Lizdom said...

I've been toying with the idea of being Captain Superhugger for Halloween... but I can't rock the white spandex like you!!

Kid hugs are the BEST hugs and I think we could all take a lesson on the joy of hugging from them!

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