I love Show and Tell. I feel there is an inherent need to shyly bring forth some prized object, thought or feeling and present it to a group to be share and admired, maybe even applauded. Without it one begins to shrivel and diminish. I had occasion, as part of a community service requirement, to spend the day with a group of kindergartners and first-graders. I was there for Show and Tell held in the traditional circle format. Two children shared that day. One was a boy who presented his favorite book on transformers. The pictures therein were held up by the teacher for all the class to see. The other sharer was a girl who brought out a turkey feather, laid it before her on the floor and stroked it nervously throughout the whole presentation. Each had brought something important; something to which they were particularly attached; something special from their life and family and the world around them. They were giving their peers a sneak peek into their person and home in hope of acceptance and affirmation.
I believe Show and Tell is a type of release not lost even when we are old and gray. Before I went back to school last fall, my opportunities for Show and Tell were so limited I was drying up like a late summer stream. That first semester I was such a Show and Tell fool, I embarrassed myself. I was a starving man at a groaning board, devouring attention from anyone willing to look or listen. I whipped out pictures of my six children at the drop of a hat. I brought copies of my ancient newspaper columns and forced them on teachers who politely accepted them but probably never read them. I carried around my artwork looking for any sly opportunity to show off my sketching abilities. I went so far as to name-drop, refer to famous ancestry and bring in copies of scientific papers written by my son and my father. I was shameless.
I participated in class to the point of annoyance. I was out of control. I knew all the answers. They were there, at the tip of my tongue, long repressed and stumbling over each other to come forth. I was rolling out years of untold Show and Tell in a matter of hours, hogging the stage, and making my classmates view me as a blow-hard.
This semester I am a little calmer although I still blurt out answers without raising my hand. I have purged myself from all that pent-up exhibitionism, at least for the time being. In retrospect, I do wonder if all of life is nothing more than an exercise in Show and Tell. There is the big-time Show and Tell where you write a best-selling novel, have your artwork hanging in the Louvre or invent the light bulb. Then there is the small-time Show and Tell where the peer group is more intimate and the showing less impressive. I had a friend over the other night. We spent the evening in what I would call a Show and Tell duel. She brought out a box of her writings and I printed a slew of mine off the computer. She read one of hers to me, and I read one of mine to her. We were falling over our words and interrupting each other in our frenzy to Show and Tell. That is why in kindergarten, they have rules, one person at a time.