I have been feeling a little blue for the last week or so, as most of my young customers have headed back to school, and the store is quieter during the day (see First Day of School Blues). Rather than retreat to my office to focus on fall orders and staff schedules, I volunteered to do the story times this week, hoping that a bit of time sitting on the floor “criss-cross-applesauce” would do some good for both my mood and my flexibility. The preschool crowd at our morning events has changed over the summer, and as we graduated a group of newly-minted kindergartners, suddenly toddlers from the spring have become “threes” — that stalwart group of story and playtime leaders who make regular visits to the shop, rotating adult in tow. As old hands now at the story time routine, they wait impatiently for their grown-up to pull open our front door (which is heavy, and jingles) and then rush in to take over their spot at the train table, doll play area, or blocks. They confidently pull all the diecast cars down from the display to drive on the rug, knowing that as long as the vehicles get put back in some random fashion, no one is going to mind. Busily rearranging all the impulse bins and pushing around the child-sized shopping cart, the three year old crew is happy to share their news, their opinions, and their emotional support.
Here’s a small snippet of wisdom gleaned from this group of pint-sized life coaches in the last few days:
On siblings headed back to school:
My brother Sam goes on the bus, the yellow bus. It has a sign that says STOP and he goes on it. I don’t go on it, and my dog doesn’t go but she wants to go. But I don’t go. And then we have breakfast and shows but not my dog. She doesn’t watch shows.
We has a school bus! It stoppeds in the driveway, and the driver gave us candy. Even mom. But not Baby Abbie.
On preschool, which commences right after Labor Day:
This year I am in the yellow class with the kitchen and the slide. And we get to eat lunch and paint. But then there is nap, and that’s not good. “Can you look at books quietly during rest time?” No. It’s for quiet, and books make me go WOW sometimes. “I understand, that happens to me, too.”
I have a backpack, and it has dinosaurs on it. “Will you take your backpack to school?” Why? “To carry your things.” My mom carries things.
I will go with my friend John. He plays at my house. And he has lots of trucks, and we play with them sometimes. And I will go with him to school. And he won’t cry. “You are a good friend.” Yeah. he’s a good crier.
On the waning summer season:
Now it is hot but we can’t go to the pool but we can go to the splash park. But I gotted new shoes that are not sandals and they light when I go — SEE!!! — but I can’t have them at the splash park. “Those are great shoes. Are those for school?” No. These are for running. “Are you good at running?” I am good at lighting.
On the Indiana State Fair, currently underway:
We wented to the fair and I saw the biggest biggest pig that was ever in the world. It was bigger than…. the biggest thing. And it was laying down. And I saw some baby pigs and I petted some goats and that was the biggest biggest pig. It was…. “Was it SOME PIG?” Mrs Cynthia, it was so big I can’t say it.
We went to the fair with Grandma! And I rode on rides and there was ice cream but not strawberry because I don’t like that.
There is a furnace. “Do you mean that it was hot at the Fair?” No, a furnace. That you go up high. And you can’t make it wiggle, but my Dad did. “Oh, a Ferris wheel? That’s one of my favorite rides.” No, a furnace. And you have to sit down and not make it wiggle. “I see. That’s an important safety reminder. Thank you.” It takes a bunch of tickets, and you should SIT DOWN ON IT, ok?
On story selection (today’s theme was dinosaurs):
I liked this book and that book and that book and all the dinosaur books. I like all the dinosaurs. Can you read some more? “I can. Why don’t you pick two more books from that stack and we will read them together. If anyone else wants to stay, they can help make the dinosaur sounds, too.” We will stay with you until the end. And you can read and then come play with me. “Thank you.” It’s ok. I am good at feelings.
Yes, my friend, you are. And here’s hoping, fellow bookish people, that all your feelings are shared with three-year-olds this week, too.