398. Show and Tell

When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite activities was show and tell. Things happened to me. I did things. I got stuff. But when I got to school, I had to let the teacher know whether I was going to buy lunch. Boring. Then I had to do a worksheet or something. Once in a while, though, at some point during the day, there was a chance to talk about what was really on my mind – the trip my family was going to take, the treehouse my father and I had built, or the new bike I’d gotten.
This only happened about once a week, but for me, it sometimes was the only thing that made the rest of the week worth the trouble. When I had an experience or got a new toy, telling about it and showing the teacher and the kids in my class was often foremost on my mind. I couldn’t tell my family about it; they already knew. But usually, very few people in school knew about it, and I couldn’t wait to tell them.
Later, as an adolescent and as an adult, I found out that most people didn’t really care what particular little things were going on in my life. At first, I tried to make bigger things happen, hoping I’d recapture their interest. That worked, to some degree, but I also had to face the fact that things were going on in other people’s lives, and they would often be too involved with those things to get excited about my news.
When friends of any ages talk to each other, there’s a certain amount of show and tell that goes on. Friendships work best when there’s a balance – when friend A really wants to hear and see friend B’s show and tell, and vice versa. But people are often too busy thinking about their own items, and so they have to try extra hard to pay attention to their friends’ items. If they succeed – if they’re sincerely interested in hearing what their friends have to say, or if they manage to at least show some interest – that’s good for the friendships.
When I started writing this article, I intended to write about what happens in school – about the things children show and tell, the way they use their voices, faces, and bodies, and the educational value of show and tell. Maybe some other time I’ll write about that stuff. But for now, I’ll use this column, as I have many times, to do my own show and tell:
Today I volunteered in Trish Farrington’s third grade class. She had told the children that some rock is formed the way the hard layer on chocolate pudding is formed – by the more rapid cooling of the surface, because it’s exposed to the air more. The children hadn’t known what she’d meant, because the chocolate pudding they’d known about hadn’t had any hard layer. So we made chocolate pudding. The old-fashioned way.
Oh, and my parents came to visit last weekend, and took me out to
dinner. But my father couldn’t come, because he had a cold. So he stayed in the motel room while my mother and I had dinner.
So what’s new in your life?

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