Of course, I naturally tried to foist it off onto Nurse Hubs.
“But Daddy’s job is so much more interesting!”
Nurse Hubs wasn’t having any of it, though. I suggested that it would be a great way to introduce a whole new generation to HealthSouth Hospital and rehab care.
“You could bring them swag! Give them all Band-Aids!” But apparently, not a lot of kindergarteners come in for rehabilitation after hip or knee replacement surgery. And they don’t even allow small children onto the hospital floor, so he wasn’t buying it.
“What am I supposed to say to a bunch of 5-year-olds?” he asked.
And it seemed really important to Parksalot that I come, so I caved. But I wondered the same thing The Hubs did. What am I supposed to say to a bunch of 5-year-olds? I mean, I don’t even like large groups of kids. Especially kids I don’t know. I talked about it with my son. I tried to explain to him that a lot of what I do in my column and on my blog site is talk about being a mom. Then, warming to my subject and hearing angels on high, I continued. “The point of my work is that I want other moms to know they aren’t alone. That we are all out there, trying to navigate mommyhood, life and womanhood, trying to raise healthy and happy kids without completely losing ourselves and our minds in the process.”
He’s nodding his head, up and down, like I make sense to him. He is my agreeable child, my pleaser.
A few minutes later, “ummmmmm, I don’t think they’re gonna understand Mom.”
OK, new plan. Ask for help from my sweet teacher friend Heather.
Her advice was to keep it short and sweet and do a writing exercise.
So, I made a coloring sheet and found a writing exercise we could all do together.
Got ready to go face them. And I was having serious performance anxiety. My main problem with children is that they totally see through people. What if they hated me or thought I was a know-it-all. Or worse, what if they thought I was a fake? Or boring? Then I was going to be “that mom” that all the kiddos disliked. Even the Terminator was nervous in Kindergarten Cops! Maybe I should revisit my decision not to bring candy … .
The most stressful part was trying to decide what to wear. In a brief, unscientific Face Book and Twitter poll, no one thought yoga pants were a good idea. Opted for peep-toe booties, boy friend jeans and a black jacket. Lots of jewelry.
When I got there, all the children were seated on the floor, just waiting for me. I felt a little like Frasier did whenever Eddie the dog was around. Why were they all staring at me like that?
“Hi, I’m Melanie Nicholas. Thank you for having me here today to talk to you about my job. (Little Son is all waves and smiles.)I have two jobs. My first and most important job is being a mom!” It is at this point that I notice that Little Son’s face has changed. A bunch. He is giving me the “PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don’t talk about being my mommy” look. You know, slightly horrified and anxious all at the same time. I correct my course. “But my second job is being a writer!” Blank stares. “Who watches Dog with a Blog? Who looks at the comics or reads newspapers with their parents?”
They were excited then! Television and cartoons, who doesn’t want to talk about that? Now that I had their attention, I did all the things I thought I should do. I talked about how much I loved to read and hear stories when I was a child, and that writing stories was an extension of that. We talked about books we all loved and then we did a writing exercise based on what they did that day. I’ll use the answers to write them their own story.
I knew I was bona fide when I used the word “hinies” in a sentence, as in more than one hiney. “We go up the slides on our feet, and down on our hinies!” See, I even taught them how to pluralize a noun! Brilliant!
Before my time ran out, I asked them if they would give me a special performance of their “Little Miss Muffet” nursery rhyme. Their teachers promised it was a really fun way to start the day. As the music cranked up, the kids leapt to their feet and began dancing and clapping, singing all the words. It was absolutely precious, especially to see Little Son shakin’ his groove thang.
My heart felt so full and it was all I could do to not squeeze and love on every single one of them. Before we walked down to the cafeteria for lunch, his teachers even asked me if I would come back to help with some writing sessions.
Oh, yes! You bet your hinies I will!