At what point in your own life do you think you dropped your sillyness?
I remember being age 11 and inviting another girl over to play – when we went to my room, I pulled out my Barbies and she said “Ugh! You still play with those?” From that day on, they weren’t brought out as frequently as they had been. Being young, everything my friends and I focused on was “being more adult”. My friend and I could no longer play with our Barbies because it was seen as “little kid stuff”. Instead, we sat around planning our future babysitting business for hours on end, trying to budget costs and labor for what was surely going to be a monopoly!! That may be seen as immature as well, but to us we were doing adult things. Our sillyness had been left at the door. It is around this age that the average person goes through a shift from make-believe to reality, trying to cope with it in their own way. For the most part, we become more serious beings, as it is immature to be silly. ( I could go on and on about how children are becoming more adult-like at a younger age, but I’ll save that for another time…)
I think myself that I am fairly silly in all aspects of life – the fact that my socks are always brightly colored and never matching, or my choice in children’s backpacks as purses, and my personality in general. However I do have a very serious streak that sometimes is hard to let go of. To a young child, sillyness is a virtue. Rhyming words that aren’t real, or saying they have something in the amount of sixteen-hundred and fourty-two kerjillion is a way of exploring language and labeling the world around them. It may not be accurate, but who says it has to be? I know I’m guilty of saying “That’s not a real number you know…” when I could just accept that this isn’t something that has to be perfect.
Joking around with the kids in school is one of my favorite things to do – yet it is something I only started doing recently. Being nonsensical is something children do to bond with one another. When I started doing it with my class, it actually took a while for them to even accept that I was doing it! I remember one of the other teachers was at another classroom for one reason or another, and the children asked me where she was. I could have just answered the question honestly, but I decided to have a little fun. I said “She’s at the circus, teaching lions tricks!” Some of the children actually got a little upset with me, which caused me to end the charade rather quickly. They were saying “Miss Nena stoppit, don’t lie to us!” However now that I include light-hearted sillyness throughout the week, I notice the children are more willing to talk to me and play with me. They include me in their little activities and games now more willingly.
It’s almost as if I broke some sort of Child – Adult wall down. This may sound preposterous to many of you, but it makes my day much more enjoyable. When some of the other children start playing along with something silly I say, many belly-laughs can be heard from our classroom. I tell them sometimes “How do you know I’m a teacher? Maybe I’m just a reeeeeally big 5 year-0ld!” There will be some who try to tell me that I’m being silly, but the imagination of some of the kids come alive when I say things like this. They come up with stories as to my situation as an over-grown child, and how I’ve been masquerading as their teacher this entire time. It’s very enjoyable, and almost becomes somewhat of an ever-evolving storytime between the kids and I.
Adults are very often excluded from a child’s games and activities, merely because sometimes we’re afraid of looking silly or we have forgotten how to be anything but serious. Some of the most captivating and amazing teachers I’ve ever observed are ones who aren’t afraid to jump, dance, hoot-and-holler with their kids, even when other adults are present in the room. When reading to the kids sometimes, I’ll neglect to do silly voices with the book because of embarrassing myself in front of a teacher who just walked in the room. Afterwards I ask myself – Does it really matter if they thought I was being silly? I know I admire any teacher who is capable of captivating the kids so much with the way they say things, so I’ve been working on doing it myself too. Yes you’re being a silly adult when you do something like that, but I think in some odd way, you gain the children’s attention and respect a little more. Who says adults can’t have fun in Never-NeverLand? Sure, some of us can be boring, but give us a chance to remember our sillyness!