Eyes in the Back of Our Heads

Eating breakfast this morning our ten-year old son went to get his backpack ready in another room, while the four-year old sat with me. As he re-enters the room I have my back to him and ask, “Everything all set?”

With a raised eyebrow our four-year old questions, “How’d you know he was in the room?”

Reflexively I reply, “Don’t you know teachers have eyes in the back of their heads?”

Suspiciously he retorts, “That’s freaky! They’d be a monster.”

I continue the joke just a bit more, and he mischievously grins, “Or what about three eyes on their foreheads?” Eventually I tell him that it’s just a saying meaning that teachers can see whatever is going on in a room even if they’re not turned toward that thing.

I love to joke and (maybe every now and then) be sarcastic with my third graders. I’m always reminded in moments like above and also at the beginning of school years, that kids often take what we say very literally. I’m reminded to be concrete and direct. Some humor is fine, it’s who I am, and it’s part of them understanding the subtleties of this world. But in general, it’s a good reminder of how literal kids are.

Sometimes our ten-year old doesn’t understand my jokes. Sometimes our twelve-year old either looks confused or if she gets it, rolls her eyes. Even friends and colleagues misunderstand my deadpan delivery. I guess I shouldn’t really expect a four-year old to understand sarcasm.

5 thoughts on “Eyes in the Back of Our Heads

  1. Thanks for this brief episode. language and how we use ours with kids are topics we could talk about for days. The fact that you took time to both play w/ your 4 y-o and then explain the phrase seems important. It’s a both/and approach rather than either/or. That makes a difference. Showing the joke, then offering the clarification and reflecting on the whole sequence sounds like a recipe for great teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

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