Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Monkey talk

Today I went to talk to my friend Cara’s 6th graders about howler monkeys. I went to speak to her classes last year as well, and for the second time, I was amazed at their inquisitiveness. 6th graders have so many questions. About everything. At any given moment, there were 25 small people seated in front of me, all frantically waving their arms high in the air trying to get me to pick them next. Their questions were really great, showing that they’d paid attention to the story they read prior to my visit and that they were paying attention to the things I was talking about. One girl asked, “How did the monkeys get to Ometepe Island?” which is a really great question nobody has an answer to. A lot of students wanted to know if I’d kept a monkey as a pet or if I’d brought a monkey home with me. I tried to impress upon them what a bad—and illegal—idea that would be. I explained that monkeys are wild animals who belong in the trees, that they are not happy in captivity. I likened it to trying to keep a squirrel as a pet, and most students thought that was hilariously ridiculous. “But Willie Wonka had a pet squirrel,” one student pointed out. Before I even had a chance to contemplate that statement, another student countered, “Yes, but Willie Wonka is fiction.” Enough said.

Some of my favorite questions actually had nothing to do with monkeys:
  • “What is your Japanese sign” one student asked me. My what? I had no idea what she was talking about. “Your Japanese sign,” she said. “Uhh, I don’t know,” was all I could say. “Mine is the rat,” she said proudly. So I guess she meant the Chinese Zodiac. I don’t know what my sign is, but I’ve since looked it up and found it is the ram.
  • “Look, I can write in gnomish.” It wasn’t so much a question, but a proud statement and display of a sheet of notebook paper covered in strange and interesting symbols.

And in the last class of the day, as the bell had rung and students were gathering their things and filing out of the room, one particularly energetic boy (who’d asked about a billion questions) rushed up to me, gave me a hug and a handshake, and asked for my email address.

At any rate, I really enjoyed speaking to Cara’s classes. It’s great to be surrounded by students who are still young enough to be excited about everything. The only downside is that, just like last year, my throat hurts from demonstrating howler monkey vocalizations all day. Oh well, I guess a sore throat will be company to my sore knee, which has been bothering me for a while now. As it turns out, my refusal to give myself a break after the marathon has resulted in some nasty tendonitis. It’s not the end of the world—it just means that I can’t run for a while, which is excruciating for me. I’ve been going strong at 30+ miles a week since August. And now I’ve come to a complete standstill. Considering that the world outside is a solid slick of ice and snow and the windchills have been below zero for a few days, I guess a rest will do me good. It’s just frustrating to be immobilized, but I’ll try to hang in there.

Again, thanks to everybody for your get well wishes to my grandma. Please keep her in your thoughts! Thanks for reading.


Logan's Mama said...

Rest that knee!!! Save it for Boston. Put your feet up and enjoy some yummy minestrone soup.

Cara said...

Thanks again for coming! The kids all enjoyed it, and all gave you a round of applause the next day when I asked what they thought.

amypfan said...

I wish my students were that interested in what I have to say!