I have always loved kids and I have always been quite popular with the under-12 set. I think teenagers kind of like me, too -- at least, the kids I taught years ago seemed to. But teenagers don't do the crazy, lovely things that younger kids do.
When I was a teenager myself, a friend and I did a biology project that required hatching ducklings. Our teacher suggested we go to some local elementary schools and describe our experiment -- which we did, when we just had eggs. Then we arranged to go back and show the ducklings to the kids. At the end of the school year, our teacher pulled out huge manila envelopes full of thank you letters from the classes we'd visited. Of course, they were adorable. But the surprise was so many of the letters were all about how cool and great I was. There were pictures of me and poems to me and it was about the greatest thing. Ever.
When I was a nanny, the little girl I took care of was about four and she started to turn herself into a little mini-Katie. She had her mom cut off her jeans into long, rolled shorts. She made her mom buy her some black pseudo-Docs. Her dad took her to get her very long hair trimmed and Elise came out with a shockingly short hairdo that looked surprisingly like the way I wore my hair.
Which all leads to today. I took my viola and visited Charlotte's kindergarten class. I played a little and talked to the kids. My favorite questions were, "How does it make the sound?" Which I thought was a really great question and I told them how the strings vibrate and the sound echoes in the inside of the instrument. And a little boy asked, "Can you play some Metallica?" Sadly, no. And then the chorus started. "You're so cool!" "Yeah -- you're the coolest!" "Charlotte, you are so lucky to have such a cool mom!"
When Cha and I were in the car driving home, she told me she was glad I came to her class. "All my friends think you are really cool, Mama." She paused. "But you're really just old and boring."
Of course, the only kids who are immune to my hipness are my own. Which is as it should be.