Sunday, January 30, 2011

Funny Kids - Redux

First posted 10/07
Art Linkletter was right. For those who never heard that name, Art Linkletter had what one might call the first reality show. In the 50's he hosted a show called, "Kids Say the Darndest Things" He'd have a half dozen three, four and five year olds sitting side-by-side on kindergarten chairs on a slightly raised platform. Then he'd walk down the row and ask each one ordinary questions and listen (without interrupting them) to their answers. That was it. That was the show. Such a simple idea, such great results. The show was a hit because there was no script and no network censors. What the kids said got on the air. Most of the time it was a outrageously funny. Occasionally there were embarrassing moments, or poignant, tear-jerking moments, but all this added to the success of the show. Millions tuned in each week just to see what those little sweethearts would say next. Their parents, I'm sure were holding their collective breath backstage as Linkletter talked with each one.

I've been teaching for 20+ years and kids indeed say the darndest things no matter how old they are. I wish I had written down all the funny things kids have said in my presence so I could write a book. Here are just two that I'm thinking about today.

For a few of those 20 years I taught the English class in the alternative school, housed in our high school. These students are a very eclectic bunch and although they have a myriad of social issues and are prone to extreme attention-seeking behaviors, they are smart, fascinating and often very funny.
Once, right in the middle of a very serious discussion of Greek Mythology one boy came to me and said quietly, "Mrs. E., Matt shaved off his eyebrows. Look at him over there, no eyebrows."
This was completely out of the blue, we were discussing the epic hero and his reoccurring role in literature. For whatever reason, Jack felt the need to tell me about Matt's eyebrows at that moment.
So I whispered, "Jack, it's not nice to talk about other students in the room. Matt may have been born like that."
Jack replied, "No way, Mrs. E. He had `em yesterday!"

Often I see my students in the neighborhood where I live. It's always good to run into them and I try to remember something nice about them that happened while they were in my class and comment on it.
One time I was in the checkout line at the grocery store and the boy packing my groceries was a former alternative school student I had a few years before. He was a challenge then but by the looks of him in his white shirt, black pants and grocery store name badge he seemed to have gotten his act together. I began racing through my brain to get something nice to say to him. When nothing immediately came I resorted to the generic.
With a smile I said, "Hi Mark, my goodness you've gotten older and even better looking."
He smiled and with a knowing nod (or smirk?) said, "So have you, Mrs. E. :):)

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