Today was the 100th day of school. You might think, “big deal.” Well in Kindergarten it is a very big deal. Kindergarteners celebrate the 100th day of school like some people celebrate the 4th of July. We popped 100 balloons, counted to 100, made hats with light bulbs that said, “I’m 100 days brighter”, read The 100th Day of School, sang Happy 100th Day of School, ate a 100th day of school cake, dressed up like 100 year old men and women, and the biggest project was the Fruit Loop necklace made by stringing 100 fruit loops on a piece of string.
It may not sound like a big thing, but believe me, being able to live and tell is like surviving a hurricane. Just imagine 16 five year olds with piles of fruit loops all around them. Fruit Loops are falling to the ground and getting pulverized into the floor. The air smells fruity delicious to the point of being nauseating. 16 little voices are counting out loud and every student is getting mad at their classmates because, “You are making me mess up. I can’t count when you are talking so loud.”
The instructions have been given: “Do not pick up your string of fruit loops when you finish stringing them. We will tie them for you so you don’t drop all 100 of your fruit loops.” We almost make it through the entire project when it happens. One little girl jumps to her feet proudly holding each end of her fruit loop string. The teacher says, “Don’t drop it!” But alas, she speaks too late and 100 Fruit Loops scatter across the linoleum floor. One sad little face causes me to smile and I can’t help but giggle. It was bound to happen, we all knew it would, it happens every year. So, the counting begins all over again. On the other side of the room sit four little ones who play by their own rules and march to the beat of their own drum. Three of the children have had assistance in correctly counting out all 100 of their Fruit Loops and instructed to gather them into one big pile and laced onto their string. A child who has been out of the room enters and I begin to explain the activity to her. She starts counting out her 10 sets of 10. I turn for a split second to tie a knot in the child’s necklace who has worked diligently counting and stringing his cereal necklace. When I turn to check the progress of the child on my other side I look just in time to see her stretch across the table and reach into the pile of already counted Fruit Loops of another child. So once again the counting starts. These two children intermittently share Fruit Loops and string and unstring their necklaces. Finally one of them tires of the game she has been playing and decides she is finished with her necklace. “This is all I want on my necklace,” she says as she holds a string of 15 Fruit Loops proudly into the air.
By this time I surrender to the madness and decide I “must” have a necklace of my own. This is an experience I hope I never forget. Although there were times I almost felt tears well up in my eyes, this experience was precious to me. I helped teach the students to count to 100 but like so many other times they taught me so much more. I learned that being a teacher can be the most rewarding experience if only you stop and enjoy the madness that is bound to occur, and never cease to love those precious children you have been blessed to teach. When I left school yesterday I smelled like and felt like a Fruit Loop. Today I look back at the experience and am very grateful that God blessed me with the experience.