Mistaken Identity
By Jeanne Robertson

It's August which means that a hoard of tiny people in Alamance County will be entering the educational system for the first time. My opinion is that God has a special place in Heaven for those who teach them.

My speech was scheduled for high school students in Port St. Joe, Florida. The school superintendent and I were standing in the "gymatorium" waiting for them to arrive when he said, "We got so excited about having a speaker from out of the county, that we decided to bring in all the students, kindergarten through grade twelve." I had a hot flash. Or, as we say in the South ... a little personal summer.

Kindergartners are four and five-year-old people. Quite frankly, they're 
not really people yet. Well, that is not fair. Of course they're people. They
are just not real people. Not yet.

"What do you want me to talk to kindergarten students about?" I finally
managed to ask. "Assertiveness? Leadership? Time management? My hat goes off to those who teach this age group, but the best thing I say to a five-year-old is, "I'll give you some money if you will go away."

The superintendent said, "We knew this would be a challenge. We told the high school students you would talk to them about the steps to developing a sense of humor. But with the little ones, we played up the Miss North Carolina angle. We showed them dozens of pictures of young women holding roses, wearing crowns and long flowing gowns."

I was about to hyperventilate, but as the morning would prove, if shown enough pictures, five-year-olds can be made to understand the words "Miss North Carolina." Unfortunately, there is no picture for the word "former."

They came off the buses looking for her, teachers herding them along like city slickers on a cattle drive. They travel in little clumps at that age. One entire class was holding on to the same long piece of rope, moving along like a giant centipede. At the front of the line, the teacher had complete control over them. If she felt like it, she could pop that rope, and tykes would ripple like a wave, up and down until the end of the line.

One teacher lead her tykes around the gymatorium three times. I used to teach so I knew she was trying to tire them out.

After a while, the teacher led the line into the stands and before she knew what was happening, one
of the little five-year-old girls broke loose. Within seconds, she was standing by my knees, where 
she looked up and said, "Where is Miss North Carolina?"

We all know the importance of truth and honesty at all times, but especially when dealing with young, impressionable children. I looked straight down at her little cherubic face and said, "She's sick."

She stared up at me and asked, "Are you her mother?"

Jeanne Robertson, professional speaker and author, can be reached through
Photo by Kleeberg Studio.