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by GailS
Rated: E · Essay · Biographical · #2207028
This biographical sketch is the result of chemo + teaching +kindergarten.
Pat the Bunny

         I never planned to teach kindergarten. However, part of my job as a specialist was to spend 45 minutes a few times a week giving writing lessons to 5 year olds. Four different classes of them. It was one class, though, that supported me in a way I didn't expect as I was recovering from a summer of chemotherapy.
         I also had breakfast duty that year. I spent my mornings answering the question, "What happened to your hair?" Kids, you know, are not shy about asking anything whatsoever.
         "Well," I'd say, "I had to take some medicine that made it fall out. But it will grow in again."
         They didn't seem convinced it would.
         Walking into Ms. E's room that first day, I got the question again.
         "Why don't you have any hair?"
         I went into my little speech about the medicine, but before I could get very far, one little boy said loudly, "Can I feel your head?"
         Why not, I thought. It could be a good lesson in overcoming weird stuff that happens in life.
         "Sure," I responded.
         Now, if you are a real kindergarten teacher, you have spotted my mistake. Never, ever say yes to something without setting the parameters. You know, like, "One at a time." Or, "The blue table may line up here."
         I just took off my hat and bent down so the little guy could reach my head. Moments later, they were all crowding around me and multiple little hands were rubbing my bald head. So much for practicing how to write j and k for that day.
         Other classes sometimes had questions, but this one was really keen on monitoring my progress in a real hands-on format. Every time I went in there, the same little boy would ask, "Can we feel your head?" I would bend over and be mobbed by all those little hands.
         After a while, of course, the hair did start to grow back. But it was not like my hair at all. It was baby hair, soft and downy. It was fun to feel.
         By that time, I just came in the door and leaned over at the start of every class.
         One day, the new behavior specialist entered the room behind me in the middle of this bonding moment.
         "What's going on here?" she asked, sounding a bit scandalized.
         Sheepishly, I turned to face her.
         "They're just petting my head," I explained as her eyebrows rose higher. "It's a ritual."

         The next fall, of course, I was greeted at breakfast with surprise by the now-first graders.
         "You have hair!" they cried.
         "Told you," I responded.
         And then?
         "Can I feel your hair?"


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