By Vita Forest
“Does my hair look good like this?” Tash flips her head forward and stares up at me, her eyes glinting through the thick strands that cover her entire face.
I am not convinced.
“How about this?” She tosses the long mess to the right so her left eye and her crooked smile can be seen.
“Much better!” I answer and she runs off to climb up the slide.
Every week I have very interesting conversations on playground duty. Some of them are non-verbal. There are a bunch of Kindy girls who know what it means when I look in their direction and pat the top of my head. “Put your hat back on!” (The new style of hats at our school are not good at remaining on the head, they can usually be found swinging behind a tiny person, like a large backwards necklace).
I hear a lot about teeth too. I am shown their wobbly teeth “ish un is obbly oo!” (It’s hard to say consonants with your hand in your mouth), and presented with freshly-fallen-out-fangs, their eyes wide with wonder. “Wow! You better take that up to the office.” The office staff have a collection of tiny zip-lock bags, I’m not sure if they are used for anything else but taking home baby teeth. The children update me how many teeth they have lost, and sometimes the tally for their siblings too.
The Year 2 kids often carry out tests to see if they are still not allowed on the high monkey bars. (This rule was put in place after one of their classmates fell and broke her arm). I go and stand in front of them, hands on hips in mock outrage. They give me a cheeky smirk and drop down. Instead, they take turns leaping off a low horizontal bar, grabbing hold of a vertical bar and spinning around it with their legs flying.
Five Year 2 girls who were in my class last year, start a circular route. Down the slide at great speed (often crashing into the person in front), running around to the ladder, dashing up to the top of the equipment, then repeating. This is the first time that I have been at the same school for longer than a year, and I am enjoying seeing my “old” kids advancing through another grade. Some of them have become a bit shy with me, but others not so much. “HAALLLOOOOOOOOOO!!” bellows Mischa and Tash, every time I walk through the playground. Makoto gives me book reviews on his latest read. He is never in the playground without a book. Kenny gives me a quiet smile as he sits down to lunch. Alan’s jokes have not improved with the passing of time…
Then there are those that another teacher calls “the Lost Boys”. They much prefer to talk to adults than other children, who they find quite puzzling and unsettling. The Lost Boys can often be found standing around a garden bed and staring intently into it. As I walk by on one of my circuits, they give me updates on the spiders and beetles that inhabit the space.
I also learn interesting facts: “Did you know,” says Bastian. “That sometimes chocolate is healthy? It is! I had chocolate once with no sugar in it. It tasted like dirt but it was still chocolate.”
and settle soccer disputes: “Pedro said it was in but it was NOT!”
and squat down to check out scrapes and bloodied knees.
It’s never dull.