Today I was schueduled for 3 x 45 minute sessions with 6 and 7 year olds, talking about healing herbs. Not only is this not the best time of year for gathering herbs but it is a bit tricky to make this more than ‘here is a plant’, ‘here is another plant’. So the children have imaginary diseases and I cure them, they grind seeds, they smell herbs and they get green and sticky rubbing soap wort in their hands.
A child comes in from break for the start of the session with her arms held out straight in front of her. ‘Are you drying your hands?’ I ask. Not a random assumption as they’ve all just been asked to go to the toilet on the way in. She looks me up and down scathingly. ‘No’, she says. ‘I am a zombie’. Well, silly me, I clearly should have known.
This age group are great, they are never quite sure if I am really from the seventeenth century or not (I am of course) and we get the occasional Santa Claus moment. The answers to the questions are great too. Me: ‘What do you need to do when you’ve had lots to drink?’ (I am trying to illicit the repsonse ‘wee’ here – nothing goes down so well as wee and poo with year 2). Child: ‘You wash up your cup.’
One child, almost certainly on the autistic spectrum, knows plenty about the uses of herbs, can name most of my examples and is coming up with some really intelligent answers. Bless him though, when I explain the Ladies Mantle (useful for holding wrinkles at bay) and say I’ve been using it for 350 years and it isn’t working yet, he says ernestly ‘yes it is I can see!’ Hurrah – made my day.