Today I made my annual trek to the pumpkin patch with 26 giddy six-year-olds in tow. Not to mention their parents and a smattering of younger siblings. The weather was perfect, sunny without a drop of rain. The sky was so blue, it can only be described as piercing. We had a great day watching pig races, bouncing in the bounce house, picking pumpkins, firing corn cannons and just enjoying the pleasure of being outside together. Here are some of the best lines from the day:
1) On the bus ride to the pumpkin patch, two little ones in the seat behind me were singing “Old MacDonald” and decided to make up a verse about pumpkins that went like this:
Little girl: “Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O. And on his farm he had a pumpkin, E-I-E-I-O. With a…with a…what kind of noise do pumpkins make?”
Little boy: “Ummmm, BOOM BOOM?”
Little girl: “Yeah, that’s a good one. Let’s sing it.”
Both: “With a BOOM BOOM here and a BOOM BOOM there, here a BOOM, there a BOOM, everywhere a BOOM BOOM. Old MacDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O.”
Then they high-fived their musical genius. Boom, boom indeed.
2) Also on the bus ride over, I sat near one of my autistic little ones. He was a little uneasy.
Little One: “I feel scared in my heart.”
Me: “What are you scared of.”
Little One: “I’ve never been to a farm before.”
Me: “Do you remember all the things we talked about seeing?”
Little One: “Yes, but I’m still scared in my heart.”
Me: “It’s okay to be nervous about something new.”
Little One: “Will you stay with me?”
Me: “The whole time.”
Little One: “Until I’m old?”
Me: “How about until you go home on the bus this afternoon?”
Little One: “Okay. But I’ll miss you when I’m old.”
Me: “Me, too.”
I’m pretty sure I will miss this little one long before I’m old.
3) While walking by the goat house where the goats where children were using a hand crank to send a conveyor belt of food to the goats, one of my little ones was deep in thought.
Little One: “Mrs. McCauley, what are those goats doing?”
Me: “Eating the food those children are sending up to them.”
Little One: “What do you think the goats are thinking?”
Me: “I’m not sure. What do you think they’re thinking?”
Little One: “I think they’re thinking ‘Mmmm, room service is niiice.'”
Room service is niiice, even in the form of grain shuttled up in a cup on a conveyor belt.
4) All week long we’ve been studying how pumpkins grow and my little ones were especially interested in learning that only the female pumpkin plants produce pumpkins. I’d showed them how to look under the yellow flowers to see if the plants were male or female. Out in the pumpkin patch I heard a little one explaining it to his dad like this:
Little One: “Dad, this one is a girl pumpkin plant.”
Dad: “Plants aren’t boys and girls. They’re just plants.”
Little One: “Nuh-uh, Mrs. McCauley read us a book about how to tell if they’re boys or girls and this one has a baby pumpkin growing under the flower. That means the bees visited a boy pumpkin flower and got yellow pollen on their legs and brought it over to the girl flower so she could make a baby pumpkin. Then this baby pumpkin will grow up to be a mommy or daddy pumpkin and it will make a flower and everything will start all over again.”
Little One: “Really. But the sad part is that the pumpkins die, but don’t cry because their seeds go back to live in the Earth to make new pumpkins. So, it’s sorta like they come back to life. It’s like a secret pumpkin super-power.”
I just love how their minds work. And I agree, returning to life after dying is an awesome secret pumpkin super-power.
5) Back at school we parked our pumpkins on the nametags on our desks. Also on our nametags are clear cups of pumpkin seeds that we took scooped out of a pumpkin and planted a couple of weeks ago. The seeds are starting to send roots down and grow root hairs. When we got back to class, a Little One put her pumpkin on her desk and squealed when she saw one of the seeds in her cup.
Little One: “Look, Mrs. McCauley, it’s taking off its seed coat.”
Me: “That’s awesome. Can you see the seed leaves yet?”
Little One: “Yep, they’re coming out to hug the mommy pumpkin I picked.”
Me: “I bet your seed leaves will be poking out of the soil when we come back to school on Monday.”
Little One: “Should I leave the mommy pumpkin here to help them?”
Me: “No, I don’t think so because pumpkin seeds know how grow all by themselves.”
Little One: “Wow, pumpkin sprouts are really smart.”
I’m pretty lucky because I’ve got 26 of my own smart little sprouts.