My wife, Marilynn, commented to me that she expected my last post about the Bird Festival to be more humorous. The truth is that the excursions on the refuge with pre-school and elementary school kids always have funny and cute moments. I’ve been a little restrained about sharing them because I don’t want it to seem I’m belittling them or breaking a little pact of confidentiality.
However… a couple of weeks ago another naturalist and I were out with some second-graders, teachers and parents. I was taking up the rear because, though we start as a bunch, the troop inevitably becomes strung out. At the front is the leader trying to impart observations and facts about what’s around us, all the while walking backwards rapidly to keep the most energetic ones from charging past and up the trail.
At the back often a whole different scene is unfolding. While we had stopped for a moment I noticed a girl standing next to me and saying something I didn’t quite catch. My wife can testify that my hearing is diminishing, and with the kids I sometimes have to bend over to get what they’re saying. As I bent down the girl grabbed her lower lip with both hands and pulled it down. Suddenly there I was starring into the open mouth of this child. I’m thinking, “What the…?”, when a little friend standing next to her offered, helpfully, “She’s got fangs.” Sure enough her lower canine teeth were standing out above the rest like two little Mt. Hoods. “She’s a vampire,” said her friend matter-of-factly. I could only respond, “Ooooh… Uh, hey, we’re way behind. Let’s hurry and catch up.”
When I think about these incidents I flash back to the Art Linkletter TV shows of the 1950s. He always interviewed kids on his shows and published three books of excerpts on the theme of: Kids Say the Darndest Things. The deal is, Linkletter always talked to the kids as if the conversation was the most normal, rational thing in the world. And it was–from the child’s perspective. I keep that in mind.
Again, the truth is that at the end of each excursion I’m feeling pretty upbeat. That’s because every time I have quite a few chuckles, even if some are only inward.