It’s the first day of preschool. I walk into the room, baby bath toys under my arm, ready to teach the shining new students an important lesson: body parts. We are more than just a sum of our parts, true, but it makes things complicated when you can’t say something like, “My nose itches” or “my foot hurts.” Enter the speech language pathologist for a special education preschool classroom.
I see them, sitting in a semi-circle around what the teacher calls the “Captain’s chair.” She graciously offers me the seat of honor. Before I can even sit down, one of the young pupils is out of his seat.
“Moons!” He exclaims. “You have moons in your ears!” He points to my ears. One body part down.
I begin a simple round of “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” One student sings with particular gusto. His eyes bright, his hands moving to match mine, he shouts out the bridge, “and eyes and ears and mouth and nose!”
After the song, when my back is turned, he reaches out to wipe his fingers on my arm. I turn around to find him smelling his fingers, fresh with whatever my scent is. He looks up at me, grinning. Apparently my arm met with his approval. Another body part down.
We bathe the baby. I instruct the children to wash the baby’s hands, feet, ears. Then, I tell them to wash her eyes. “Ouch!” I surprise them. “There’s soap in her eye!” They stop what they are doing to stare at me. “What should we do?” I ask, probing for their fledgling problem-solving skills.
One student looks alarmed. “We should take her to the dentist!” He responds quickly. I smile. Of course! The dentist will help get the soap out of her eye. “Maybe we should try to rinse it out first,” I suggest. He agrees.