O best beloved, it began with sixteen realistic miniature plastic animals of the sort you might buy to pacify an overheated, exhausted child in the gift shop that is always the only way out of the zoo. And here I just thank my lucky stars I got to raise my little sons in a city with an excellent zoo, Omaha's Henry Doorly, and that my dear parents gave us a family zoo membership for Christmas every year back then.
The sixteen animals were not being clutched in sweaty hands while small boys in safety carseats fell asleep for the drive home with their little heads smashed down on a mess of Cheerios. The animals were in a basket in the classroom, along with neat labels. They were in good shape except for the owl. Norton, the class rabbit, nibbled the horns off the great horned owl years ago.
Ordeal--My father cannot retrieve nouns because his brain is deteriorating. I am very concerned about an almost five year old student who cannot retain/retrieve the names of things. If I ask him which animal is the chimpanzee, he can point to it. A minute later he cannot name the animal when I point to it.
It is a nice menagerie there in the basket; bison, black bear, camel, cheetah, chimpanzee, fox, giraffe, kangaroo, llama, ostrich, owl, panda, penguin, polar bear, rhinoceros, and spider monkey. We slog on through the a.m. trying to say the beginning sounds on the labels.
P-p-p-p I've already spent months with this child trying to call a pear a pear, and not pineapple or pine cone. It doesn't matter how many times we go look at the big alphabet poster and the P-p-p parrot picture. It is still just a "P-p-p green bird" to him.
Last month we worked on farm animals. He usually called the goat a "strawberry".
I feel the pain of President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and others trying to patiently, calmly, positively, emphatically convince a small group who can't tell a goat from a strawberry to do the sensible thing.
As the morning dragged on, we got down to the five finalists in the animal identification effort. Only the camel would be correctly identified. The rest would be identified as follows:
Green olive, I am not kidding.
Pitted, definitely pitted green olives.
© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder