Tag Archives: children

Elephant and Black Bear

by Jennifer Dryden

Written for my dear friend John Askew.

Once upon a time, there was a knight who, at night, turned into a elephant. The elephant lived in the jungle but during the day, he lived in a grand castle just off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. The knight was deeply in love with a black bear and they would frolic in the vines and have contests with who could smash the most fruits. At the same time, the black bear was just a black bear and she was starting to wonder where the elephant went during the day. He was nowhere to be found.

Then one day, the black bear swallowed up enough courage to ask the elephant after she had just beaten him in a game of fruit smash.

“Where do you go after the sun rises until the sun sets?” she asked.

His trunk played with the twigs on the ground to avoid eye contact. He hummed under his breath, trying to find the words he had rehearsed so many times before as a human in front of his full-length mirror.

She prompted again, “Elephant, where do you go?”

Elephant opened his mouth and posed, “Does it matter?”

Black Bear nodded and leaned forward to make him look at her dark browns.

Elephant took a deep breath and put his trunk around Black Bear. “Would you believe me if I told you I don’t always look like this?”

“What do you mean?” she asked, black eyebrows furrowing in confusion.

“I mean, once the sun touches my left ear in the morning…” he paused, not sure if now was the right time. They’d been so happy together in their nights. Their nights were full of fruit-smashing fun and he had suddenly acquired feelings for her, something that made his huge tummy tingle, with what his human sister called “butterflies.”

“The sun, once it hits me, I turn… human.” he looks down and removes his trunk from her back. Can she bear to look at me? he wondered.

“I turn into a knight who lives in that castle we always thought we’d throw fruit at once we became brave like Lion.” (Lion lives just three streams down.)

Black Bear looked up at Elephant and she smiled. She smiled because she had a secret as well.

She began to play with the twigs on the ground that just moments before distracted Elephant from his confession.

She took her paw and touched the strong elephant’s chin. Their eyes met.

“You are brave like Lion. You are, Elephant,” she said, leaning in closer to whisper something in his left ear. “Once the sun rises and touches this listening ear, it reaches down to my height and enlightens the top of my head and…” She paused, nervous and scared this could change it, all of it.

“I’m the princess who lives across the jungle. The one with the green light on the end of pier. I’m human too, Elephant… err Knight.”

They embraced in the realization that they are more the same than not. They embraced because they worried for months and through so many fruit smashings about nothing. They then built a bridge connecting the two islands and castles and spent every day in each other’s human arms, where one was never bigger than the other. They were equal and… they were in love.

And they lived happily ever after.


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Here New York City is seen through a child’s curious eye as a city packed full of hidden alphabet letters. They’re in the sidewalk’s brick, the gate’s metal, the signs’ words, even in the trees. When someone takes the time to look around and investigate, they will discover the 26 letters of our alphabet are everywhere.

Click on the link below and view my book of New York City’s ABCs!


(The majority of the photographs were taken by me, a couple by my friends, and only two from Google Images.)

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A Doozy Daycare Day

To save my sanity from nonstop job applications, unnecessary naps, and too much time at my mother’s house, I am working part-time at my local childcare center. (I worked there for four years in high school and college.) I’m just a “floater,” which is basically a substitute teacher in the school district-sense. I fill in for staff who have the day off in all of the classrooms: younger infants through school-age. Today, on my first day back, I worked in the school-age room with 37 five- to ten-year-olds.

I had been a full-time, summer assistant teacher in the school-age room while I worked at the center in high school, so knew it was going to be either A) crazy and unbearable or B) crazy and bearable. Well, I’m not lying when I say it was the latter: crazy and bearable, but I want to throw in a new word: hilarious… and why not add: interesting. Let me tell you about it…

I entered the long classroom slightly disconnected, excited, and a bit nervous. I’ve been knees deep in journalism and publishing for the past four years, I couldn’t help but question how this would get me closer to a “real” career. I entered the room to meet 20 kids working at tables on various activities — some colored, some played with cars, some whestled in the corners while I silently ignored their behavior — I said hello to the lead teacher and stood in place, letting my eyes circle the room.

I looked at faces and realized these kids who were now five and six were in the two-year-old classroom last time I worked here. I had changed all their diapers, helped potty train them, and rubbed their backs on cots for nap time. I also remembered the biters, the sensitive types, and the ones who screamed at nap time and deliberately woke up their friends. They could now complete sentences, poop on the potty confidently, and share with their friends.

I stood for less than five minutes and a five-year-old boy looked up from his table of other friends and said, “You’re a jerk.” Good morning, Jenn. Welcome back! I looked at him half wanting to put him in time-out and half not wanting to be labeled a “mean teacher” so I replied with this: “I’m one of your teachers today, so I’d take that back.” His smile became a straight line, his eyes lowered, and he let out an, “Oh…”

Another child was dropped off and I just stared at him for awhile, trying to place him in my memory. I had seen that face before, but where? I began laughing out loud when I finally placed his brunette, brown-eyed face as David in the You Tube video “David After Dentist.” He looked just like David. I ventured over there to figure out his name and if he’d been to the dentist lately. He said his name was Dylan and no, no recent dentist appointments. Bummer, but every time I looked at him, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.

We went outside to the playground and the girls dispersed to the playhouse and the boys, of course, began a game of football. Well, until the boys discovered a grasshopper in the grass. What do you get when you cross a boy, a bunch of scittish girls and a grasshopper? … Boys chasing the girls out of the playhouse screaming. I let it happen and just laughed because boys will be boys.

We went to the movie theater for the free Tuesday movie, “How to Train Your Dragon” (which was awesome and so cute!) where we bought 36 kid’s pack of popcorn, soda, and M&Ms. We felt silent death wishes from the people behind us. And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete until one of our kids puked at the movie theater. So that happened.

Then we took them across the street to the library (YAY!). I was partners with a “five-and-a-half”-year-old boy named Nolan. He somehow got on the topic of getting married and having babies. This is what he said regarding child birth… (oh yes, this gets better).

According to Nolan people “lay a baby” and “somehow it comes out” by “unzipping your tummy.” Please pause for laughter…

My life hasn’t been this interesting or entertaining in years! This all happened in an eight hour shift at the childcare center I worked at for years with the kids I saw at middle-thigh height last. I never expected this day would be like a big “Welcome Back Party” for me, but hey, puke, a free movie, deep insights with a five-and-a-half-year-old, and meeting David in person works for me.

Oh, I also checked out four children’s books from the library! Whoop.


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