While I’m fully aware of the rarity of my species, a male who teaches kindergarten, the novelty is lost on me from time to time… Last week, I was reminded why being a man makes me so much different from my peers.
I received an email from a co-worker, another kindergarten teacher, about a situation with a little boy, let’s call him William, in her room. Apparently last fall, a little girl in my class told him that he was going to be in BIG trouble for wrecking some fairy houses her and her friends made on the playground… how much trouble? BIG trouble. Such big trouble that Mr. _______ was going to come after him!
Now I realize most of you have never met me, but I’m hopeful my personality has come through in my writing… I am not a scary guy. I’d like to believe I’m rather kind, caring, and open. I’d also bet good money than a few of my female counterparts are a lot scarier than I am… well wouldn’t you know it, poor little William was apparently so afraid of me it was beginning to cause some problems.
With spring here and the fairy houses returning, he thought it was about time for me to come after him… naturally, because this is kindergarten, this isn’t the whole story… in fact, William didn’t wreck anything. The girls in my room were just taunting him, scaring him, with… me!
William ended up writing me a letter explaining the whole situation and professing his innocence… he actually wrote ‘I’m innocent’ – I tried to keep a straight face when I read it. Thing is, when I went to his classroom to tell him I’d read his letter, thank him, and explain I wasn’t upset with him, he looked absolutely petrified as I walked over and sat next to him. You would have thought the Incredible Hulk had come for a chat.
When I spoke to his teacher afterwards and relayed his reaction, without missing a beat, she said, “You’re the man.”
Apparently my gender makes me scary to some children. The little girls in my room know this because they used MY name and not Mrs. D.’s to frighten poor William. They also know I’m not someone to fear, but they were banking that William didn’t. I hope after our conversation William realizes I’m not a raging ball of anger… he smiled at me the next time I saw him on the playground so I think I may have changed his mind.
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