How A Puppet Showed Me That It Was Time To Go Back To School

As I’ve blogged about before, I detest — like a whole LOT — puppets. It was then almost comical to consider my experience from yesterday.

I had to return something to a store, so in the early afternoon, I made my way out there to line up at Customer Service. The wonderful employee was processing my return, when I heard a “mmm, mmm, mmm” sound behind me. What was that? I turned around and was unexpectedly surprised by a young boy opening and closing the mouth of a shark puppet. How am I the only person in the world to ever run into a child with a puppet at a store? I’m sure that this isn’t the case, but it certainly felt like it yesterday. Now I had a choice. I could ignore the child and the shark puppet or I could respond. The teacher in me felt the need to say something.

I looked at the shark and I said, “Oh no! Should I be scared right now?!” The shark replied, “Don’t be scared. My favourite food is cheese.” This then evolved into a 10-15 minute story about …

  • cows that break houses,
  • a family of sharks (is it called a “school” like fish?),
  • various types of cheese (how picky is this shark?!),
  • and some party planning for shark time in the pool.

Yes, the play-based kindergarten teacher in me couldn’t help mention the possibility of …

  • invitations for the party
  • and a sign to not break houses (what would this sign even look like?!).

As the shark, the little boy, and I did some chatting and planning together — from a distance and all masked minus the shark 🙂 — the mom looked, listened, and laughed a little. Just as the employee was coming back to tell me that my refund was processed, I mentioned to the mom that I’m “a kindergarten teacher. It’s nice to be able to see kids again.” And you know what? It really was.

I know that I saw kids for months online, and I had some great conversations with them. But being in the same room as this child and having the opportunity to talk with him without muting mics and worrying about static in the background, was a wonderful thing. Yes, September comes with many unknowns. With the increased COVID counts and the uncertainty around the Delta variant, I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t anxious. But I am eager to …

  • hear stories again,
  • get immersed in play,
  • feel the excitement that can even come from a cheese-eating shark 🙂 ,
  • and feel the energy that happens when kids get in a room together, even when they’re distanced.

I might still believe that we cannot underestimate the dark side of puppets, but I’ll thank this puppet for showing me that I am ready to go back to school. What about you?


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