I missed a week with my Super Stars.
Lethargy. Fever. Chronic and juicy cough. Sore ribs. Tender throat. Strange dreams.
Pneumonia: I wouldn't recommend it.
Today was my first day back after a lot of rest, water, and antibiotics. Armed with coffee, additional hydration, medicine, and planned centers and activities that would allow me several more opportunities to sit down throughout the day, I was ready to read our first story, Alice Nizzy Nazzy, the Witch of Santa Fe.
If you're unfamiliar with the story: a good little girl named Manuela, having been warned of a dangerous child-eating witch, encounters said villainess while searching for a lost flock of sheep, and barely avoids being eaten for dinner.
The Stars were patient and attentive, even as I paused to take a sip of coffee or clear my throat. When the story was finished, I began to ask questions, and offer clarification, checking for comprehension. One student observed "this is kind of like Hansel and Gretel, you know, with that witch." I agreed, and asked "Why do you think Alice Nizzy Nazzy wanted to eat Manuela?"
No response. "What did the witch in Hansel and Gretel like to eat?" "Little kids!" was the chorused response. "And who did Alice Nizzy Nazzy want to eat?" "The girl!" they chirped. "Why do you think witches like to eat little boys and girls?" I asked.
S-e-r-i-o-u-s, contemplative expressions at the level of my knees. Slowly, hands began to rise.
Student 1: I know! It's 'cause they're monsters!
Student 2: Who? The witches are monsters, or the kids are monsters?
Student 1: The witches, the witches are monsters.
Student 2: Ummm, I don't think that's it.
Student 3: ... because bad boys and girls deserve to be eaten?
Some silent thinking continued, which I didn't interrupt for fear of triggering a coughing marathon. I took another sip of coffee.
Student 4: I know. It's one of two things.
All eyes and ears turned, and waited.
Student 4, speaking in a tone most solemn and serious: One: We taste really, really good. Or two: witches are carnivores.
More quiet contemplation followed.
"Do you think this story is fiction, or non-fiction?"
Student 4, assured: Oh, it's fiction. Witches aren't real.
... and everyone exhaled.
Prior schema. Bravery. Imagination. Connections.
It's fun to be frightened, just a little. It's okay, even necessary, to think through fear.