Whitney started every presentation we did on Long Island this week with a whine and a moan. She wasn’t scared of the kids. She wanted to play with them!
Who can blame her? The kids were cute, cute, cute, but somehow Whitney managed to settle in and lie down by the time we got to the Q&A part of our presentations. Hearing them ask in those adorable Long Island accents made me want to gather them all up and play with them, too. Some examples:
- What happens when you have to go down stairs?
- Which is your favorite dog?
- How do you eat ice cream?
- How can you write books if you can’t see??
- How do you plant?
- How can you use the remote to watch TV if you can’t see?
- But what if the ice cream is in a cone?
- Can your dog have babies? Why not?
- How do you know which dog is your favorite if you can’t see them?
- How come you are so pretty?
- How can you drive?
- Dr. Who started in 1963 and you could still see, did you ever watch it?
- How come you have to change dogs so much?
- How do you know what your hair color is?
- Is your dog with you all the time when you’re at home, too?
- I liked the Fourth Dr. from the planet Gallifrey and he had a robot dog named K-9 and I liked it when Nyssa was on, too, so which one was your favorite Dr. Who?
- Can a Seeing Eye dog work with more than one persons?
- How do you feel if you’re blind?
- How do you know where your dog is if you can’t see her?
- What if you had a glass and you were walking to the couch and you went to sit down and your dog was there and you got to the couch and you dropped the glass and it broke and got all over the place?
Whew! Whitney and I spent three entire school days with students on Long Island, and trust me, we both slept well afterwards. No wonder teachers get the summer off. They need it!
After my presentation to one of the kindergarten classes at Harding Avenue School in Lindenhurst on Tuesday, a boy raised his hand to let me know his dog is blind, and that his family is teaching her to go up stairs without being able to see. I’ve had Kindergartners tell me before that they have blind dogs, blind friends, even blind parents. I assume they’re telling me a story, and I usually comment on how lucky they are. I responded to this boy by asking, “Are you a Seeing Eye kid, then?”
The kindergartner liked that idea, and his teacher asked if he might want to tell me why he has to teach his dog to go up stairs now. “We were living with our Grandma,” he said, explaining they just moved into their own house. “It has lots and lots of stairs, and it’s way, way, way up high.” That little boy wasn’t just telling me a story. Their family dog is old, and she really is blind. His family’s home was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, they’ve finally just moved into a new house, and it’s on stilts.
During breaks from my talks, the school principal and teachers explained that Harding Avenue has 400 or so students, and 163 families from the school were displaced by Superstorm Sandy. Outside of this little mention of the new house way, way up high, though, the resilient kids never mentioned that storm. The temperature was in the sixties the day I visited, the winter snow had melted, and after I answered all their questions and took Whitney’s harness off so they could rub her belly. Then they ran outside. Recess!
Mrs. Antonelli’s 2nd grade class at Harding School came up with a way to thank me that I can hear, and that you can see: