A bunch of eager-looking four-year-olds set out on a singular adventure in a warm, well-lit preschool classroom: adjusting to the world of “big people” words. Mrs. Henderson, their teacher, was a nice woman who preferred to use formal language. She pushed that her young students overcome the limitations of baby talk.
Mrs. Henderson would gently but firmly remind the kids, “Remember, kids, you need to use ‘big people’ words.”
The most difficulty the little ones encountered was making the shift from the innocent, simple baby talk to the complex adult language. Mrs. Henderson was committed to supporting them during this change.
“John, what did you do over the weekend?” she asked the boy with brilliant blue eyes and wavy hair one day.
After giving it some thought, John said, “I went to visit my Nana.”
He was corrected by Mrs. Henderson, who was always a language coach: “No, John, you went to visit your grandmother.” Apply “big people” language.”
Mitchell, a boisterous child with a taste for adventure, was next in line. He gleamed with excitement when asked how his weekend was. He declared, “I rode on a choo-choo.”
Mrs. Henderson had to smile, but she corrected him quickly. “Well, Mitchell, you rode a train. Apply “big people” language.”
Next was Johnny, a boy with a beard and a love of books. “I read a book,” he smiled sweetly in response.
Mrs. Henderson’s expression brightened with joy. “It’s fantastic,” she exclaimed. “What book did you read?”
Johnny’s little face scrunched in thought as he halted for a second. Then, as though spurred on by a sudden boldness, he proudly puffed up his chest and proclaimed himself, “Winnie The Shit.”
There was a minute of silence in the classroom, and then there were loud laughs. Taken aback, Mrs. Henderson had to laugh aloud herself.
“Johnny,” she smiled kindly, “I believe you intended ‘Winnie the Pooh.'” But we’ll make it; don’t worry. Keep in mind that we are all learning together, and that each word you use will get you closer to those “big people” terms.”
Now that they were accepting of their individual language journey, the kids kept trying to become experts at using “big people” words, and Mrs. Henderson discovered that even the most difficult lessons may occasionally be made memorable and lovable by adding a dash of comedy and innocence.