Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Danger in the Classroom

This is just awful. I stand there, wondering how I had got myself into this situation. Only days before I had been dealing with Danny, a 5-year-old, crushed by a car in his own playground, and now I have to deal with 60 five-year-old's, all at once. I look around at them all, sitting there in front of me. I feel so uncomfortable, my jump-suit seems so tight, and I find it hard to draw a breath.

Dammit! This is what I do. I have to focus!

"Hello, children," I start. "My name is David, and I'm a doctor. I've come to your classroom today to tell you about what it's like to be a doctor." Hey, this is going ok, I can do this.

One little boy puts his hand up. "I've seen a dead person. My granny died at home and I saw her. Have you seen a dead person?" Ah, didn't take long to get on to dead people, then. I quickly skirt the subject, and show them my stethoscope. I get a few up to listen to my heartbeat, thinking that might be fun. Another hand shoots up. "Do you make dead people better, too?" Now what? I look across at MrsRRD for some guidance, but for once she is not any help at all - she is trying hard not to laugh, and the effort is bringing tears to her eyes.

I plug gamely on: "No, once someone is dead, I cannot help them, but I can stop some people from being dead." Shaky ground, this. Why, oh why, did I agree to come here? Surely a policeman is more fun for 5 year olds. And suddenly it hits me. "Who wants to come and turn the sirens on in my car?" I ask. I am quickly surrounded, and we march off into the rain (hats and coats first) and they each press the buttons for the lights and sirens, using up the last of my 20 minutes, allowing me to escape with no more tales of dead grannies.

Back in the car, I turn to MrsRRD. "Never again!" I exclaim. "No," she says softly. "Not after the next three schools I've booked you in for."


  1. You can always rely on kids to go straight to the interesting stuff. The policeman who visits my daughter's school doesn't wait to be asked, he just tells them straightaway that he's never shot anyone. He doesn't even have a gun, but they still ask.

  2. If the next set wants to hear you talk about dead people (and they may not) ....

    Some of the littles may have ideas about dead folk that they find scary. In other words, they may think that just as soon as somebody dies, the dead person turns into a skeleton or a zombie or something else scary.

    You could also talk about how rare it is for a 5 yo person to end up dead.

    So you could talk about what makes a person alive (a beating heart, which sends blood around the body; how the lungs get rid of this to add that; how the brain is dependent on the heart's work & the lungs work....and when the marvelous machinery doesn't work any more, a person is dead.) And you could talk about how "dead" mostly isn't scary, just...nothing for the dead person, and sad for the folk left behind.

    Another thing you could talk about is 5 yo, age appropriate first aid: washing cuts, how to deal with a bloody nose, coughing into one's elbow rather than one's hand, and so on.

  3. Thank you, Liz, I will certainly use that info to keep myself on the right track next time. MrsRRD, who used to be a nursery teaher, tells me it is easy to talk to that age group - they'll believe anything you tell them!! They are still scary to me...