This past week, Joe Cool achieved a whole new level of apathy. On Wednesday, grades K-3 went to a see a theater group perform The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (and other tales). It was a great show… the 5 actors/actresses used masks, puppets, pantomime, dance and magic to tell the stories. The students were awe-struck as they watched the show, and chattered non-stop about it once we got back to school. During circle time, I allowed them to share their favorite part of the show. Every child told about a funny part, or remembered a magic trick, or talked about the bus ride (always a big hit). But when it was Joe’s turn to share, he didn’t want to talk. (He has this charming habit of going stone-faced when he doesn’t want to communicate. When questioned, he’ll either shrug or stare at you with such a lack of emotion that it makes me wonder if something’s wrong with him.) I told him to think about it, and said I’d come back to him. The second time around was no more successful.
I tried prompting him with, “Did you have a favorite part?” No response.
“Did you think it was funny?” He shook his head no.
“You didn’t think any of it was funny at all??” Another vehement head shake.
At this, Little Old Man jumped up and pointed to Joe. “Joe, I was sitting right next to you! I saw you laugh at the funny parts!” Several other children nodded their heads in assent.
“No I didn’t!” Joe said defensively, looking sullen.
I intercepted the conversation to diffuse the tension, and I let Joe off the hook without answering. I had seen him laughing and smiling during the show, too, but I wasn’t about to force the situation. It frustrates me so much that he couldn’t admit that he had enjoyed himself at the theater. I just can’t imagine what harm could come from saying he had fun. Especially in such a safe situation – every child in the class, boy and girl alike, had shared a favorite moment. And this is not an isolated incident. Joe usually doesn’t choose to participate in anything fun. He doesn’t sing with us, he refused to dance with the rest of the class in the school Christmas show (he was also the only first grader who didn’t attend the show that night), he doesn’t laugh at the funny parts in books during story time. It’s like he’s afraid to let loose and enjoy being a kid. I simply cannot understand why. It makes me so sad that he’s missing out on the best part of school - the best part of his childhood - because he wants to look cool. Or at least that’s what I’m getting out of it. I don’t know what else could be making him so apathetic, so unmotivated. And I don’t know what else I can do to reach him.