Beanie started school this year and we are starting to get the hang of it now. A few weeks ago, a note came home calling for ‘mystery readers’ – basically parents or family members who would surprise the class and read a story to them. Beanie was busting for me to do it, so I dutifully filled in the note and said that I’d take part. Husband suggested asking my dad if he’d doing it – he’s an ace story teller, complete with ridiculous voices and characters. Totally perfect for a kindergarten class.
Then the note came home.
I glanced at it and tossed it aside, sort of with an “oh yeah, ok”.
The next morning I suddenly realised that the date was actually today. I scrambled around for a book, not really knowing what would be suitable for a kindy class, but settling on “Oh, the thinks you can think“, by Dr Seuss. It’s a classic: funny imagery, weird words, but not too many tongue ties, and a great message about imagination and creativity.
We dropped Beanie off at the kiss-and-drop bay, none-the-wiser and then went and parked the car. Then we (the two girls and I) got ourselves organised and headed up to the classroom. Beanie’s teacher had left the door open just enough so that I could stand cleverly in her eye line, and we waited for the signal before knock-knock-knocking and saying “surprise!” Beanie’s eye lit up like it was the most wonderful thing ever. And Talbot thought it was just fantastic going into Beanie’s class and sitting with him and his classmates on the floor.
Boy, was I nervous! My fingers were trembling, and I could barely turn the pages or hold the book the way they do on Playschool – which is my only show-and-tell reading experience. But pretty soon, I calmed down and realised that the kids had no clue I was so nervous. One boy in particular kept making comments about the pictures and words. Interacting with him really helped me feel so much better, and reminded me that everyone in that room was the same age at Beanie (duh, I know, right). Once I got over that, I was able to read like I do with my own kids, asking them questions about the story.
Teacher took a photo of Beanie and me with our book (and our photo-bomber, Talbot) and his eyes were shining like Christmas. As I thought about it later, I remember being in year one. My teacher would organise ‘electives’, where parent helpers would come in and take groups for different activities, like craft or sport games. I remember when my mum said she would participate the next term doing cooking. I thought it was the best thing ever. She never did make it, as a sudden job transfer for my dad saw us move interstate, but I still remember the excitement of thinking about my mum being at school. *awesome!!!*
It made me realise that these moments are truly priceless. Here I am thinking about how I felt over two decades ago about something that didn’t even end up happening, so how much more will this little mystery reader activity – that lasted all of ten minutes – be fondly remembered by Beanie, and any of his classmates whose own parents or family members take part?
I take my hat off to Beanie’s teacher for scheduling this small but memorable experience for her students. I want to encourage mums to go out of their comfort zone once in a while to take part in things like this. I can (almost) guarantee that it will be something that your kids will remember with such delight for many years. After this, I know I’m certainly keen to keep doing these sorts of things with my kids.
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