Bruises, Scrapes and Missing Teeth: A Day with 1st Graders

When working with children, you never really know what to expect. At any given moment, anything can happen. Kids are very clever, but they are also so fragile. Among my students for instance, many of them always seem to have a runny nose—it’s like the eternal cold—and, on occasions, one or two will hurt themselves while playing outside, thus scratching their everything.

A few weeks ago, first grade student Esther came running, showing me her smile, which was now missing two front teeth. Filled with excitement she said, “I lost two teeth over the weekend!” Esther doesn’t talk that much in class, so I felt very special she wanted to tell me this. She’s such a sweetie. As adults, we’d be terrified if that happened to us, but the little ones get so excited about their teeth-less smile…I find it adorable.

My nieces are around that age and one of them got a complex about her smile when she started losing her teeth. I didn’t know kids that young could actually feel insecure. It wasn’t a big deal in my time, but times have changed. So now, every time I see kids losing their teeth, I make sure to let them know how CUTE I think their smile looks. And it’s true.

Anyhow, what I witnessed today wasn’t all that cute. There were bloody mouths, bloody noses, scratched elbows and bruised knees. My first grade students didn’t see me last week (I had switched my schedule around in order to make it to Las Fallas) and they were very excited to tell me all about their past two weekends. As I entered the room, they ambushed me: “Teacher Marcia! Teacher Marcia! [Incomprehensible speech as they all tried to speak at the same time.]”

It was getting a little out of control, so I had to lay down the law. I asked them to sit down and raise their hands if they wanted me to hear their stories. One by one they began raising their hands. Lucia goes first: “I was running and I crashed against a tree.” Ouch. Poor girl had cuts and scratches all over her nose and cheeks. What kind of tree was this? Or how fast was she running? I wondered. Alejandro then raises his hand, “I lost one tooth today.” Then it was Beatriz’s turn, “Me too, teacher!”

I see Manuel, the most active little boy I’ve ever known, jumping by his seat (typical) trying to get my attention. “Yes, Manuel?” I say. He comes running to the front of the class, rolling up his pants leg above his right knee. “Seño, look, I fell on the playground and hurt my knee AND my hand.” Oh my…  I always worried about that little boy; he moves around way too much. It can’t be safe. Manuel set the standard by showing me his wounds because then everybody wanted to show me something. Maria also came up to me rolling up her sleeve, “I fell, too, like Manuel and cut my elbow.” They went on and on and on…

I couldn’t believe they all hurt themselves at once, in one day. It was only 12:30 past meridian! How much energy is in these kids?

Then, as I am finally ready to start my lesson, Maria—the same little girl with the bruised elbow—interrupts, “Teacher, I’m bleeding from my nose!” ¿Cómo es posible? Seconds later, Beatriz’s mouth is all bloody from the tooth she had just lost… Meanwhile, my face looks like this:

HA! I must admit, I was terrified after all that shows and tales. But we all made it through. Class was quite fun today, actually. After everybody cleaned themselves up and settled down, we did the “Hula Pokey”…

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