First, I want to say a big thank you to Laura for hosting me on this very last stop of my One Big Pair of Underwear blog tour!
I told Laura that I would write about school visits, which have been such a fun part of my life this fall. With most of the groups I visited, I played rhyming games and math games. But I knew that presenting to two-year-olds would be a special type of challenge. So the week before facing three classes of two-year-olds, I turned to my friends who have experience working with this age group for advice.
“Don’t ask the two-year-olds any questions,” a teacher friend said. “They won’t answer.” My other friend agreed. “They might raise their hands,” she admitted. “But when you call on them, the best you will get is ‘ummm’ or ‘I forgot.’” I followed my friends’ excellent advice when presenting to a large group of two-year-olds and just-turned-three-year-olds. I asked no questions, thus avoiding any awkward silences. But neither of my two-year-old experts had prepared me for what would happen when I said the word “underwear.”
Before I tell you what happened, let me back up. Saying the word “underwear” to ANY school group has great power. The kids giggle. They snort. Some of them say “ewww.” When I read One Big Pair of Underwear out loud, the kids inevitably join in when I get to the final word in the book: underwear. During my presentations, I often ask kids to help me see if we can squeeze two teddy bears into one pair of underwear; reactions range from enthusiastic hand-waving to jumping up and yelling “Pick me!”
And when I bring out my gigantic pair of underwear and let four, eight, or even ten kids squeeze inside, the whole room erupts in laughter.
Now back to the two-year-olds. Neither of my friends had ever said the word “underwear” to a group of kids this age. So they did not warn me about what would happen. I, on the other hand, will warn you. If you are on a tight schedule, do not say the word “underwear” to a room full of two-year-olds. Because underwear has a whole difference significance for two-year-olds than it does for the rest of us. Underwear isn’t just funny for them. Instead, underwear is the tangible representation of a major life achievement. Here is what happens when you say underwear to a group of two-year-olds:
“I’m wearing underwear!”
“My underwear has Anna and Elsa on it!”
“My underwear has Thomas the Train!”
“I am getting my big girl underwear when I start going pee in the potty!”
“I go pee in the potty!”
“My sister wears big girl underwear.”
“My mommy is going to let me pick out big boy underwear at the store.”
“I wear big boy underwear.”
“My underwear has Hello Kitty!”
“I have Elmo on my underwear!”
And then, just when you think you might get your presentation back on track, comes the inevitable…
“I will show you MY underwear!”
Consider yourselves warned.
Bio: Laura Gehl wears big girl underwear, although she has not found any with Anna and Elsa in her size. Laura is the author of One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, as well as four upcoming picture books: Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel; And Then Another Sheep Turned Up; Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching; and Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating. You can visit Laura online at www.lauragehl.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraGehl.