As a Spanish teacher for students as young as 4 1/2, elefantes have become a part of my daily life. We count the elefantes. We balance like elefantes. We put elefantes to sleep. We give a peanut to the elefante in the circus. I’m not sure where the obsession began, but the fact is that my students and I love our elefantes.
There is a song in particular that we sing about elefantes which lights up my heart. In truth, it’s not the song that I enjoy. The song itself is terribly repetitive. Not only that, but predictable. It doesn’t have an ending, or even a middle. The story it tells is quite unexciting to me. You may have heard it; it goes something like this (translated to English):
An elephant was balancing on a spider web
that he saw would hold him
so he went to call another elephant
Next, his friend comes, so there are now dos elefantes, and then tres elefantes and so on and so forth (all the way up to 10 when the song simply fades away). See what I mean? Not the most rousing story within a song. Moving along, as I said previously, it is not the song that I enjoy. What truly brings me delight is the way my students react to this song.
I’m an adult. I have a boring imagination. If you tell me that an elephant was balancing on a spider web, the thoughts that go through my head include, no spider would create a web of that size and it would be very hard to train an elephant to balance on something that sticky and unstable. However, in the minds of my 5 year-old students, they see an elephant. They see an elephant balancing on a spider web.
Then, they see two elephants balancing on a spider web. WOAH. Now there are three elephants on that same web! How can it be?, they think. No. Stop. It’s not even possible. FOUR elephants! They don’t know where else it can go from here. That must be the end. We cannot fit any more elephants on this web. Hold on…yes…it’s true! Another elephant! That makes FIVE! Jeez this is really getting ridiculous. Their eyes light up with eager anticipation as the next part comes along. They can’t fight it any more. Yes, there are now SIX elephants. They begin roaring with laughter. We couldn’t possibly hold six elephants on this web! There’s just no way. Someone has to stop them from calling more friends to come. But alas, along comes another. That right, we’re at SEVEN elephants. The laughter rises. How is this web still holding up? How are they able to balance at the same time? I hope there’s not another one coming. What’s that I hear? You better believe, elephant number EIGHT is here to play. The students look at each other and at me, smiling and giggling. They begin to accept what’s coming next. They continue to sing along, making the motions for the web and the creepy little spider. Then he comes…elephant number NINE. He stands there on the web, balancing with his eight friends. How? We’re not sure. What we do know, is who to expect to join us. Finally we meet him, our elephant number TEN. Amazing! Incredible! Their eyes are wide and their mouths gape open to laugh. These elephants are unbelievable. As the song fades, they begin to unwind from the excitement. Their laughter quiets as the smiles linger on their faces. Silly elefantes…