Kids are so different. My boys proclaim to really dislike school. In fact, my older one has gone as far as to say he hates it. It makes me crazy. Their grades don't come close to showing that they don't like school. The older one (for all of his moaning and groaning) has had almost a perfect report card for two years running, and the little one actually asked me a few weeks ago to print out some math sheets to work on before a long car trip.
So what gives? I can only presume that they look at school as something that takes time away from the other things they really like to do. Well, sorry guys, thats's something you are going to have to deal with until you retire (or hit the lottery.)
A few weeks ago, my editor and I were talking about interviewing kids about going back to school. She suggested talking with my boys (to which, of course, I gave a hearty laugh—we don't need negative Nellies influencing school children everywhere!) and maybe some random other kids. Sure, I thought, approach kids on the street and ask them about school—that could definitely be interesting. The challenge with kids is that if you don't know them, they are not going to open up to you. It would probably go something like this:
Me: Hey I'm interviewing kids about going back to school. Can I ask you a few questions?
The parents: (After deciding that I’m not some freak of nature and really a very normal person) Sure! Billy, why don't you talk to this nice lady?
Me: So Billy, are you excited about going back to school?
Me: What grade are you going to be in?
Me: Uh, okay. Do you know who your teacher is going to be or do you want a particular teacher?
Ugh. I just couldn't do it. The single word responses and me pleading like a politician for answers would send me into fits. Let's come up with a different plan. Enter stage left, my co-worker and friend, Shawn. Shawn and his wife, Terri (whom I am also friends with—heck, she lent me the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy!), have a boy (Tristan) and a girl (Emma), who are extremely social and therefore very good candidates for an interview. Shawn told me, "Of course you can interview them. I'll bring them in next Wednesday." Score!
The next week, I grabbed some fruit chewies, cookies and juice boxes before I headed off to work. Yes, I know kids—the way to get them to open up is to provide awesome snacks.
Tristan and Emma got to the office and I took them into the conference room. Nope, I didn't invite Shawn and Terri, I wanted to talk to the kids and get real answers, not the ones kids fabricate for their parents. We sat down and as the kids happily ate their snacks, the three of us talked non-stop for the next forty-five minutes.
The kids are going into first (Emma) and third (Tristan) grade. They both really like school. In fact, Emma said, "I like it even more than Tristan!" And though they had had an awesome summer complete with movies, trips to the zoo and lots of swimming, they couldn't wait to go back to school. The following day the class listings would be posted, and they were excited!
Tristan had already looked up and researched all the third grade teachers. He didn't seem to have a favorite, but he knew his best buddy was going to be in "Mrs. White's" class, so that's who he wanted too. Emma, on the other hand wanted the same teacher Tristan had for first grade because she was really nice.
Tristan really likes to read (he's currently into Star Wars books and Guinness Book of World Records) and write quite a bit, but his favorite class is P.E. He especially likes a game they play that has something to do with Alaskan dogs, doctors, germs and kids. (Really, it did sound like a lot of fun, but it's very hard to convey in writing—a third grader's description complete with gestures and the excitement in his voice is much more captivating!) However, he was a little sad that they were really getting a new P.E. teacher this year; he really liked the old one.
We talked about school lunch (Yea! for pizza and chicken nugget days!); what they'd wear for school pictures (Emma wants to wear a dark purple shirt with a blue owl on it and a matching skirt); and the things they like to do at recess (Tristan – basketball and soccer, Emma – playing princess and Barbie). And then came what I was hoping for—the moment of truth…
Emma (who has beautiful white-blonde hair and the most enormous blue eyes you've ever seen), leaned in and said in that breathless sweet voice that only little girls can have when they are about to share something very important, "If I'm good all year at school, I'm going to get a puppy!" "Really? Wow!" I said with a little bit of shock and skepticism. "Yes," her voice got very low but those blue eyes were dancing, "It's going to be a Yorkie and her name will be Lela." "Oh my!" I said (sure that my eyes had now grown to the size of hers), "Does your dad know about this?"
She assured me that that was the deal they had made. I was impressed! Shawn and Terri must be super parents!
We talked about lots of other things and finally, I returned the kids to their parents. I thanked them profusely for bringing the kids in, expressed how refreshing it was to talk to kids with such enthusiasm about school, and then, I told them about the puppy.