A friend of mine invited me to talk about my work at a local school for career day. Most all the careers were covered, but they needed someone from agriculture to fill a slot. The real farmers were busy, so I would have to do.
I don’t consider what I do to be very exciting. Interesting maybe, to the right person, but certainly not electrifying. Talking to a bunch of school kids about tree farming was going to be tough. Then I found out that I was to talk to kindergarteners. Good grief! 80 Kindergarteners in four shifts. What? Gulp. Oh my!
When I got there the local fire truck was out front. Lights flashing. Fire hose demonstrations were set up. The ladder was about 90 feet up in the air. Cool guys with square chins walking around in their fire hats. I was doomed. I mean, what kid hasn’t dreamt of being a fire fighter.
Down just a little ways was the S.W.A.T. Wagon. More flashing lights. Men in uniforms that looked just like the guys on the movie set of Transformers. I thought about looping through the parking lot and sneaking away. Maybe I could call in sick.
I parked my truck with no flashing lights at the far end of the building. Grabbed an empty nursery pot and a bag of soil, and headed indoors.
“Hey kids. I’m here to today to tell you about tree farming.”
“Here’s a really cool pot that would fit over your skinny little body. We plant trees in these at our farm.”
More blank stares.
Five year olds are either with you or not. They’re sitting cross legged on the floor really close around me. The teacher gives me a remote to use for the slide show. I did at least have nice pictures. But, I couldn’t get it to advance to the next slide. The little girl next to me, more like right under me rolled her eyes and said:
“Give it to me. I know how to use it.”
“Next.” I said. She became my tech person.
“No. Go back one.”
All in all I survived. And there were tons of great questions. Forget the fact that their questions had nothing to do with tree farming.
“My sister has a horse. Do you have a horse at your farm?”
“Did you see any pictures of a horse? I have trees.”
“Where do you keep the cows? You know it’s not a real farm unless you have cows.”
“Let me tell you about how real . . .”
I have sought forgiveness for having cruel thoughts about little munchkins. I kept thinking about that scene where Indiana Jones drops down inside the tomb only to discover he was surrounded by snakes. “I hate snakes.” I wondered if Indiana had ever been dropped into a pit of scary five year olds.
At the end, I had them all stand with arms in the air like trees and tied a length of flagging tape to each of them, like I was tagging them to be shipped. You’re an Oak. You’re a Maple. You’re a Magnolia. When it was over, I got hugs from short people. And later on my friend told me that most of them wore that flagging tape on their arms all day long and on the bus home.
I’m not sure I should ever go back. My sensitive side might not be able to handle it. But it did make me wonder if I could somehow get more flashing lights on my tractor.