The Brilliance of Show & Tell

We are approaching the end of my son’s second full week in kindergarten. Even though he’s attending the same school in which he went to Pre-K, the first few days were rough. We suspect it was either due to a growth spurt or just his way of coping with transition, but his sleep pattern got all out of whack. We’d gone through this before, for a few months which felt like forever, right before he started Pre-K in Georgia. No matter what we did, he would go to sleep at a decent time, but wake up at 2 or 3am, ready to play, eat, whatever. This occurred again a few weeks before kindergarten was scheduled to begin.

The first week was a trial. Almost every morning I’d drop off my sleeping boy, placing him in the arms of his teacher, who would hold him while the other children played or ate breakfast. For several days I resisted the urge to just work from home. Thankfully, my company offers flexible work schedules and you’re never questioned if you decide to work from home or leave early. But I knew that the best thing for my boy was to be in school where he’d be with other children, playing and learning, so that his body would naturally find its way back to a regular schedule. It was hard. And I felt awful, but somehow I did it. Encouraged by positive end-of-day reports from his teacher, we both did it.

This week, on Monday, my boy woke up the moment I opened the door to his room. He was cheerful as I got him ready for school, and he walked into the building, holding my hand, instead of having to be carried. He barely gave me a wave before he was headed over to a toy chest, ready to play for a bit before school began. I damn near skipped to my car.

On Tuesday, he was super chatty as we were getting ready.

“How many hours till Daddy picks me up?”

“Um… 8, I think.”

“8? That’s not very many. I thought it would be like, 20 hours.”

My daughter and I just looked at each other, shook our heads, and laughed. What did he know about hours?

As I was putting on his new shoes (Lego sneakers. Everything is Legos nowadays.), he opened his hand to reveal two small Lego figures.

“I have to bring this for Show and Tell.”

“Oh. They’re really small. Don’t you want to bring something that’s maybe a bit bigger? I don’t want you to lose those.”

He just shook his head no. I was so happy that he was just talking about school as a place he was excited to go, I didn’t argue. As we were dropping my daughter off at her high school (GULP!), he explained all the things he was going to tell his classmates about the two toys still clutched in his fist.

And that’s when it hit me how important Show & Tell is. Forgive me if you parents out there have already figured this out and you’re slapping your foreheads at my stupidity. But it occurred to me that Show & Tell is our children’s first experience with public speaking. I was thrilled that he was so excited to stand up in front of his peers and talk. My son is complex. He can be chatty and outgoing, but also extremely shy. I make him blush whenever I show him any praise or affection. He ducks his little head, won’t make eye contact, and tries hard to suppress a smile. Sometimes he’ll even run to a corner or burrow under a sofa cushion.

I don’t know many people who enjoy public speaking. I love it. I looked forward to each speech I had to deliver in public speaking class in college and I didn’t have a problem volunteering to be the presenter in group projects throughout high school. My only fear was forgetting something and not saying everything I wanted to say. Some people are terrified of speaking in front of others, especially in front of strangers. I wonder if those people felt the same way when they were in kindergarten and pondering what to bring to Show & Tell. Is the fear of public speaking something you’re born with or developed after too many publicly embarrassing moments or run-ins with inconsiderate people?

When we got to school that day, the teacher informed me that Show & Tell was Thursdays and that she gave them a theme each week to force the kids to be creative with what they brought in. Otherwise, everyone would bring toys. Again, I noticed the similarities to public speaking class. I told my boy to tuck the two tiny figures into his pocket because today wasn’t S&T day. I could have just taken them to work with me, but I could tell he was disappointed and having them with him was the only thing keeping him from being completely heartbroken. Also, I get home around 6pm and he gets home at 3:30pm. But I also worried that he might lose them or some other kid might take them.

Several times throughout the day I worried about those two little toys. They were part of a larger Lego set that cost us $40. If he lost them, I would probably purchase the whole damn set again just for those two little toys because I am a sucker. (My husband just read this and did his own face palm.) As soon as I knew my boy had been picked up, I called my husband to find out if the toys were with him. They were. Insert huge sigh of relief here.

My husband told me that the theme for Thursday was “Your Favorite Hat.” He took our boy shopping and let him pick out any hat he wanted. This is what he chose. My baby Heisenberg.

Angry Birds Hat

Told you he can be shy.

I’m happy to report that he had a good day. He strutted into school yesterday with that hat perched on his head. I swear I could hear some cool funk music playing as he did. He talked about Show & Tell and how awesome it was. I’m looking forward to next week’s theme and will keep encouraging him to enjoy public speaking. We end up being afraid of so many things in life and that leads to missed opportunities and adventures. I know I can’t control everything and that he will eventually be afraid of something, but for right now, my little shy guy looks forward to standing up in front of a group of people and talking. And that makes me happy for him.

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2 thoughts on “The Brilliance of Show & Tell

  1. We have a lot of pressure with show and tell here. And so far, every week has been a color, so the thing has to be that color, plus bonus for wearing a shirt that color. Today was yellow. I had a hard time finding her a yellow shirt that was half way decent and not a hand me down. It was a shirt from a trip hubby and brothers took over the summer, and had a small stain. Didn’t care, it was yellow and She HAD to wear it.

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