On a recent afternoon, my husband and I were the Mystery Readers for our daughter's first grade class. Every Friday, different parents show up to read for half an hour and the kids don't know whose parent it will be until the reader knocks on the classroom door and the teacher opens it and reveals the surprise.
Note: This is even more surprising for everyone involved when you are not wearing pants. (Which, apparently, our uptight elementary school frowns upon. Another lesson learned the hard way ...)
In preparing for our first turn as Mystery Readers, we spent a lot of time finding appropriate books. And by that, I mean we chose tomes that mentioned underpants and would go over big with the 6-year-old set. And boy, did they. We began strong with Charlie's Superhero Underpants, a book that has the added benefit of a Yeti finding and wearing Charlie's lost underpants. This really made me fall in love with fine literature all over again.
We continued on this winning streak by following up with books that mentioned peeing and a reference to the word "butt." And at the end of our reading time, the kids raised their hands and our daughter got to call on three of her peers for "a question or a comment about the reading or the readers." We sat back, ready to accept the kudos for our book selections and animated readings that really brought the books and characters to life.
Which is when we learned that first graders suck at validation. To wit:
Question/Comment 1: "My dog's name is Rufus."
Team At Home with Brutalism: "Surprising that English is your first language, as that is not the least bit relevant to anything we read or talked about. But thanks for sharing ..."
Question/Comment 2: "I think the pale green pants were able to move because they were operated by remote control."
Team At Home with Brutalism: "You obviously missed the point of the story, which was how we should be accepting of others even when they look different from us and how we should not be scared of those differences. Looks like you'll bring down the school average on the reading comprehension portion of the standardized tests for first-graders this year. Enjoy middle management."
Question/Comment 3: "How did the dust bunnies get out of the vacuum cleaner?"
Team At Home with Brutalism: "They didn't. They met their untimely demise in the belly of the murderous vacuum. Everyone dies. But usually not until they learn that Santa Claus is not real."
(Disclaimer: The questions/comments were made aloud. Our responses were not.)
We ended our mystery reader engagement by having lunch at the school with our kiddo. This is when we made our second disappointing discovery of the day: The cafeteria does not serve anything stronger than lemonade.