Friday, April 24, 2009

Honing my skills

Little Miss C’s kindergarden class has been studying animals and conservation, and I had never been more honored than when she asked if I would come to her school and talk about the monkeys that I study! Aimee set the whole thing up, and on Thursday morning, I drove over to Indianapolis for the big talk. It went pretty well, considering that the unrelenting nausea had kept me from sleeping the night before and I was past Crawfordsville before feeling even a modicum of relief from the Zofran. Talking to 5-7 year olds was definitely more intense than middle schoolers or college students, but I am really glad to have had the experience! I talked to two classes of about 30-40 students each (Aimee, correct me if I am wrong on those numbers… but it seemed like there were a lot of little people in the room!). During the first class, I did abysmally. I started off with a picture slide show (that didn’t show up too great on the screen) and told them the difference between a monkeys and apes. To my surprise, a lot of them actually already knew that monkeys have tails and apes do not. Some students even came up with additional differences: apes are bigger than monkeys (true!) and apes go like “this” [little boy demonstrated by making fists and beating his chest] (sort of true, I guess!).

I froze like a deer in headlights after that initial introduction though. They were all shouting questions at me or madly waving their hands in the air trying to get me to call on them. Most of the time the questions were actually comments, that began something like, “This one time, my cousin and I went to the zoo…” It was a little overwhelming. Aimee—who had come along to help me out, thank goodness—brought me back to focus by offering suggestions of things that I could tell them, such as, how big are howler monkeys. I told them that howlers are about the size of a large house cat, to which 20 people excitedly shouted, “I have a cat!!” And then they wanted to talk about cats for a while.

All in all, think I did a better job with the second class of students. I think I was over the initial shock and had a better sense of what to say and the way to say it.

Afterwards, Aimee took me out to lunch—where I had hummus for the first time in 5 months, and to my surprise, it tasted amazing. Then before I took off to go back home, Aimee gave me loads and loads of baby stuff. Honestly, I am not even sure what some of it is, but they were things she said I would need, and I trust her judgment. So hopefully I will figure it out! ☺ Some of the things she gave us were little outfits that we had given to them when Miss C and Mr E were born, so I guess it’s all coming full circle! I also got all of Fig’s diapers (purchased second-hand from Aimee’s neighbors), which is a huge relief. They are really good quality cloth diapers (FuzziBunz) that I was able to get at a fraction of the price of what they would cost new. Plus, they are so darn cute.

In a perfect world, I think I would love to become a traveling monkey lecturer… spreading the story of Wrinkle Belly and other primates to school children across the country. The catch is finding somebody who pays me for this. So I guess I shouldn’t quit my day job (what was that again?? Writing my dissertation, I guess?) just yet.

Aimee told me that when she was accompanying the kids home from school, she asked them what they had learned that day. They told her that they had learned the difference between a monkey and an ape! And that’s what makes it all worthwhile ☺

Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to Aimee, Miss C, and the students/teachers at Miss C’s school!

P.S. Sorry to my other Indianapolis friends that my visit had to be so short! There’s only so much time that one can spend away from one’s dissertation….


Anonymous said...

I can just see 20 little children , frantically WAVING their hands , wanting to be noticed---- ANOTHER GREAT EXPERIENCE!!! Little children are so like sponges.... soak up everything they hear........ whereas COLLEGE students, probably spend more time zoned!!!! :( So a motivational ?? monkey lecturer,sounds quite interesting,,,,,,,,,, and FIG could always travel with you, and entertain the class when you have that DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS , moment!!!!! How exciting to bring back lots of tiny things to wait for FIG's arrival!!!!! a big thanks to Aimee!!!! while you 'wait' for fig to arrive, write a FEW children's books to fill up your days!!!! luv you, foxymama

Aimee said...

you did a wonderful job! thanks again for coming over. There were probably 45 - 50 kids in each session and they are VERY overwhelming! They all learned a lot and when I went in on Friday everyone asked if I know "the Monkey Lady?" There's also a very cute picture of you in the newsletter! it was a graet time and they all learned so much!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like so much fun! Teaching little kids about the law just isn't the same. :)