Saturday, April 22, 2006

I am a Mean, Evil, Terrible Person

So, I was reading a couple of Madeline books at work today to a bunch of kids and there was this one girl who kept asking all kinds of questions as I was reading the story. Which, in and of itself, was cool. This is storytime, not school; the kids are allowed to ask questions and interject comments as long as they are on topic and not too disruptive. I often ask questions to try and get the kids thinking and I'll even sometimes make sure they answer. It helps them become better readers and it makes storytime more interactive and therefore more fun for them (which also helps make them better readers).

It was cool until we got to the part in Madeline and the Bad Hat where Madeline tells Pepito that she isn't sorry at all that he got hurt because he deserves it for being mean to the cat. (A vengeful child is our Madeline, but a just one as well.) That was when the little girl - who looked to be about first or second grade, maybe kindergarten, but I doubt it - asked "There was a cat?" in a decently loud voice.

I turned and looked at her, and without thinking replied 'Have you been listening?"

Because, for those of you that haven't read or don't remember the story, the previous pages had been pretty much all about how Pepito had been dragging a sack ("What do you think is in it?" had been one of my questions to the kids) that made all the dogs in the neighborhood follow him (Madeline's teacher assumed it was food) and when he opened it up all the dogs descended upon the poor cat that had been trapped inside and Pepito was been caught in the middle (Darwin award, anyone?) and ended up needing to be rescued by Miss Clavel, Madeline's teacher.

Realizing what I had done I added. "There was a cat in the bag, that's why all the dogs attacked Pepito," or something like that.

Now, I don't feel bad for pointing out to the kid that she should have been listening to the entire story, not just some of it. In fact, I would have been doing her a even greater disservice if I had let the comment go. However, I am also quite aware of how intimidating I must be to six-year-olds, especially when I'm standing on a stage while I'm reading the stories.* There are a lot better ways I could have said that. Hopefully, next time I'll remember to say something more along the lines of "Yes, don't you remember the cat in the bag?" At which point the kid in question would have likely said "no" - but then I could have called on the other kids to fill her in. Which would have allowed me to both gently admonish Little Miss Oblivious and reward the other kids for paying attention.

But today - today I was a mean, evil, terrible person. :(

*I was standing and not sitting because one of my co-workers was standing on the stage dressed up as Madeline and I couldn't get around her to show the pictures to all the kids unless I stayed standing as well.

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