Aldersgate Preschool

Ms. Gerry knew it: children say the darndest things

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We all know it.  Kids say the “darndest” things.  A few stories about Ms. Gerry are told often around here.  Ms. Gerry Cady was an older teacher and then later a volunteer here several years ago.  Our garden area on the large playground is there in her memory.  We remember her sweet spirit.  We remember how she interacted with children recognizing their intent in everything they did and said.  For example:

While sitting on Ms. Gerry’s lap, gazing up at her a child said,

“You have skin like an elephant.”  

She knew in her soul that these words did not have the negative connotation that adults would attribute to it.  She warmly replied, “I know, Sweetie, I worked hard to get it to look like this.”

Another child, talking to Ms. Gerry, said, “You must be older than God.”

Gerry simply smiled and said, “Sometimes I feel like it too.”

These are only two of what I am sure were many of such incidents with Gerry and the children.  I often stop and remind myself of this as children have said things to me that otherwise might have had a sting.  I have heard:

“Your belly is super soft.”

“You have boogers in your nose.”

“My mommy has a baby in her tummy.  You do too.”

“You look like a man.”

I’m sure there were many more statements similar to these.  I took them for what they were.  A child was describing things using their limited frame of knowledge.  A child is trying to make sense of his or her world.  That is what I took away from this.  I replied with something like, “I know.  Everyone’s tummy feels different, some are round and soft and some are flat.”  “No, Honey, I don’t have a baby.  I just have extra cushion in there.”  “Oh, thanks for noticing.  I must need a tissue.”  “Why do you say that?   Is it because I have short hair and you see that men have short hair?  Some women have long hair and some have short hair.”  (I will admit, I did go home and take a long hard look at what I was wearing the day she mistook my belly as baby weight.  Ha ha)

I enjoy the days several teachers linger in the office at the end of the day.  We often get to talking about the kids, how we can help them, and how the adult world sometimes perceives them through adult lenses.  I loved the comment Ms. Lori made the other day.  “Preschoolers say things as an observation rather than a judgement.”  Let me repeat that and bold it  – it’s a good one to remember.

Preschoolers say things as an observation rather than a judgement.

It is easy to become embarrassed or shocked by things kids say – especially in public.  Our indignant response may inadvertently have the child feeling confused, anxious or even guilty.  If you calmly refelct on their intent, it is much easier to reply with a clarification rather than a flustered admonition.

In a store I overhead a child talking to another customer saying, “Why is your skin brown?”  The mother got a little flustered and I hope she didn’t mind me jumping in to say, “Yes, God made people in lots of different colors.  Look my skin is pinker than yours.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m don’t always have the right comeback.  Sometimes my own mood results in a less than stellar response.  It happens.

This kind of thing also happens between children.  The other day, during the hubbub of arrival, a child with a big smile on his face  said to another, “You have curly hair.”  The child on the receiving end didn’t seem to take that as a compliment.  I gathered the two together, got the second child to admit she felt bad about the comment.  I asked the first child, “Did you mean to make fun of her curly hair?”  “NO.”  he said, “She just has curly hair.”  I clarified this with, “It is different than yours and you noticed it.” Afterward, both children went happily on their way.

I’ll finish by saying it one more time.

Preschoolers say things as an observation rather than a judgement.

(Photo credit:

One thought on “Ms. Gerry knew it: children say the darndest things

  1. I had the pleasure of working with Ms. Gerry for several years. A dearer person there never was. She loved children and they loved her for so many reasons. She would chuckle with twinkling eyes as she shared some of the funnier comments that children had directed to her. This article also takes me back 20 years to an embarrassing trip through the grocery store with my almost 2 year old. Our first encounter was a retired teacher I had worked with who obviously penciled in her eyebrows. “She gots owbrows, Mommy. She gots owbrows!” It was time to say a quick “Great seeing you” and move on. Next there was the older gentleman with a white beard filling a freezer case. “Look Mommy. It’s Santa Claus! There’s Santa Claus!” We finally made it to the check out and I felt that we were home free. But, no. On the other side was a nice looking African American man wearing a black leather jacket. Pointing, my very observing toddler announced to the entire store, “He gots black, Mommy. He gots black!!!” Today I laugh at the memory and understand that Kenneth was simply sharing what he observed, but then I was totally embarrassed and could not wait to escape to the safety of our car.

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