Remember Mr. Rogers? Remember how he would walk into his pretend house singing a friendly song, take off his jacket and put on his cardigan sweater then change his dress shoes and slip his feet into something more comfortable? Yeah, good ol' Fred.
Well Mr. Rogers and I have something in common. It's not his pretend house or neighborhood, because the preschool room and the children are very real. You could guess its the comfy shoes we both wear, but I come with mine already on, where as he changes into his.
You see, every morning when I enter the classroom, the first thing I do is take off my coat, hang it up and put on a denim shirt. I can even hear Mr. Rogers whistling and singing his song, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood." Then I envision him zipping up his cardigan as I'm buttoning up my shirt. I never wear anything dressy or uncomfortable but more practical clothing for a busy day of constant movement and art projects. I refer to them as my preschool clothes and although the denim shirt protects them from spills, wet paint and glue, the main reason I wear it is for my role as the human Kleenex.
As an example, our new little guy who, was having a rough first week, just sobbed all during circle. I sat behind him to provide some comfort. Well he decided to snuggle in and took my arm, crossed it in front of him and buried his head. Then he swiped his runny nose along my sleeve, turned his head into my chest and dried his tears. He had moments where I thought he was done, but then he would burst into tears again and continued to use me as his personal Kleenex box.
Although the crying continued, we carried on and sung our Hello song. The third verse of the song requires the children to hold hands, while sitting in the circle, as we sing, "Turn to your neighbor and shake their hands" which we repeat three times.
So I ask you with an arm full of snot and wet tears, "Won't you be........ my neighbor?"