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.