2013-09-26 / Lifestyles

Just for Fun

Lois A. Corcoran Lois A. Corcoran Houdini had nothing over on Alfie Aldridge. A few hours into his first day of preschool, the English toddler escaped without his teacher’s knowledge. Determined to get home, he climbed a three-foot wall and crossed a busy street. Upon discovering him at her front door, his mother was shocked, to say the least.

There’s a great deal more to preschoolers than meets the eye. I’ve recently had an opportunity to see that for myself.

“We can always use extra help,” said the owner of a day care center when I asked about volunteering. She suggested a reading hour, an activity near and dear to my heart. With rose-colored glasses, I pictured a circle of little people enthralled by the books I’d bring.

I arrived early to find 10 lively kids, six boys and four girls, each with his or her own distinct personality. One little guy likes hugging people. He embraces from behind, however, and came “this close” to strangling me in a half nelson. A little blonde gal gave me a gentle hug to make up for the assault.

“They didn’t take naps today,” the weary-looking teacher warned me. She looked like she could use one herself.

It was close to Halloween so I wore a wizard cap to set the mood and slid the first book from my tote bag. “You look like a witch,” said one little boy. “You should see me without the hat,” I replied.

As it turned out, only five of the 10 children showed interest in story time. Some hung on my every word, while others were more interested in possession. “I want to read it myself!” said a three-yearold, who grabbed one of my books and held it in a death grip.

Meanwhile, the nonconformists played with the loudest toys they could find.

The first reading “hour” lasted a scant 30 minutes. Afterward, I stayed to help with snack time, which ended in spilled water and crushed crackers.

Luckily, we had assistance from a third grader who arrives each day after school. She wipes up messes and dresses the children in outerwear for playtime. She was, in fact, far more help than I was the first day.

I admit there were iffy moments when I felt like making an Alfie escape, but I’m glad I stayed. And I plan to return each Friday for more adventures.

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