I was the “Mystery Reader” in Cam’s class on Thursday, which means I showed up with Britt, a couple packages of cookies, and a book to read to the students. The kids yelled “Cam’s mom and dad are here!” and then immediately started swarming around us in a way that made me wonder if they’d take my wallet.
It was a fun time, no doubt, with a favorite book of mine: The Little Engine that Could. It’s the one with the broken down train full of toys and food for the children on the other side of the mountain. A clown and a bunch of dolls keep flagging engines to get some help. Most of the engines turn them down except for one little blue train engine that saves the day by saying “I think I can, I think I can…”
I’ve read this book to Cam at least 40 times in the last few months. He loves it, and I love reading to him. Written in 1930, the book shows its age, talking about getting peppermints and spinach to the kids, which no kid I know has ever asked for.
I read it to a mostly captive audience, which wasn’t bad considering it was the end of the school day. If anything, it reaffirmed my appreciation for teachers in a big way. Preschoolers aren’t the easiest group to speak to, but still nowhere near as challenging as college students.
At the end of the book, we celebrated that the kids got their toys and lame snacks with a huge cheer, followed by chanting the mantra of the book together (I think I can… I think I can…). It was like a positive thinking seminar for preschool students.
Afterwards, they excitedly showed Britt and I the butterflies that their class has been raising. After that, they were ready for recess, and we were ready to go before they filled up on all the sugar cookies we brought. On the way out, I checked to make sure I still had my wallet.
At the end, we gathered around for a group photo. Cam stood next to me, surrounded by his classmates, and I said “you’re going to remember this for the rest of your life”, which he might. I know I will.