Thursday, February 26, 2009


under the sheltering arm of the kindergarten teacher
the little ones flourish, safe to explore
the confines of this weekday nest
as she clucks and tuts, holding the routine
reminding them of the rules, the three tasks
they must do every morning when they enter the class
with its tricoloured rug, alphabet cards
on the wall and bins of wooden toys
carefully sorted into stations, compartmentalized
neat and predictable like the day.

when the day ends and it’s time
for the little ones to leave this primary-coloured
soft-cornered construct where each table and chair
is child sized and everyone has their own coat hook
with a name-plate and self-portrait above,
the kindergarten teacher leads the march
out the door two by two then stands back
as they scatter to their buses, their rides,
their roughened older siblings, sketchy-looking dads
and those stroller-pushing, gum-chewing mums
with a mixture of anxiety and relief;
who will be watching over them tonight?

Rachel Westfall
February 26, 2009


Kyddryn said...

Beautiful, love.

I often wondered, as I let my children (because they were MY children during the day, all 112 of them) trickle out of the center, how well they were looked after if I wasn't the one doing the looking. Some of those parents were shady characters, suspect, and I sometimes thought their kids were only loved when I sheltered them in the center, stood between them and the world for the day. It's not always easy to keep one's perspective...

I let more than one family slide a while on their fees, fudged the records a little, because I couldn't bear to think of the alternatives when I kicked them out of the center. And it wasn't even MY center. Nope, no perspective at all.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who wouldn't go back to the daycare world, now, because she couldn't bear to do it again...)

RachelW said...

It is bittersweet, isn't it? I think the best teachers are the ones who really do care, who do their best to create that safe space in the classroom, but it eats at them when the kids don't have a similar safe space at home. I saw that in my daughter's kindergarten teacher. She didn't even like to let the kids go off on school field trips, because it disrupted the soothing routine and safe space she had created for them. She was wonderful.

christopher said...


Ravy said...

I remember going out for walks all holding a rope together single file...waddle waddle quack quack...
Love it.

Karen said...

Thank you for showing this through the teacher's eyes and for recognizing the shelter that she creates. I've always said it takes a special person to teach kindergarten. You captured it beautifully.

Poetikat said...

I was a teaching assistant with Kindergarten kids for a number of years - you have taken me back. It makes me want to do it again.


RachelW said...

Thank you all. :) I'm glad I managed to touch on something real, because I've only seen how it looks from the outside. I'm in awe of teachers of young children, the really good ones. I've only ever taught taekwondo to kids this little, an hour at a time, and I can't say I was ever able to create the sort of amazing shelter for them that a kindergarten teacher can. Not even close.

Karen said...

Rachel - the longest day I ever spent was an hour I had to cover a kindergarten class! Those teachers, the good ones, are saints or angels.

Carole said...

Rachel, you'll have to publish your poetry (if you haven't already). I'll be the first in line to buy your book. I'm not a huge fan of poetry, but I do enjoy some. Yours is truly like a dessert of beautiful words, if that makes sense. I am not as good with words as you, but thank you.

RachelW said...

Karen, I bet! Chaotic little beings... ;)

Carole, one day I will get around to it. I've stopped sending my poems to magazines because I want to put them together in one place. For now, it's this blog, but I would like to put some in print. Thank you for the encouragement! :)