I’ve been working at a preschool/day care for about two months now. To summarize the experience involved with this, I can really only use one word.
The pay isn’t fantastic. The job has its days. I love my kids to pieces, but on some days, it’s only the love of Jesus that keeps them from going through a wall.
The most recent turn of insane events has landed me in the infant room for the majority of the past week.
Basically, I’m working with more poop than I ever thought possible and have survived multiple attempts on my life from being gummed to death.
There’s this little boy in my class who hasn’t been developing at the right rate. He’s about a year and a half, around the same age as my niece, but to look at him, you’d never know this. He’s tiny. But the teachers have taken to referring to him as Monkey Boy because you can’t turn your back on him without him climbing onto, into, or over something; a big no-no when it comes to Ohio Licensing Laws (which I’ve come to hate, by the way).
Tonight in the baby class, I had three kids. Two little girls and Monkey Boy. The two girls like to climb to, but are easily distracted, so I ended up sitting on the mats with Monkey Boy, prepared to scoop him up and drag him back if he climbed too high or too far to be safe. At first, the dragging and scooping was a delightful game. He would wobble out of my reach, I’d go after him, and he’d giggle as I grabbed him, spun him around, and put him back on the mats.
Monkey Boy stopped being amused after about ten minutes of this game. He started to cry when I picked him up. And if he wasn’t crying, he looked up at me with his big eyes, giving me a look that said, “Really, lady? Really?” The table looked so inviting to climb on. What treasures could the bookshelves above hold? And I, the mean lady who was already losing points for being in the weird place and not being his mommy, was just dragging him away from his goal after he had worked so hard and gotten so close.
When this happens in the older classes, you can explain to them that they’re not making safe choices. They don’t like this even a little bit. But they can comprehend it. You can’t explain to an 18-month-old that his choice to climb over the book shelf, up the stairs, and into the washer and dryer isn’t exactly the safest thing on earth. He lacks the cognitive ability to process this. He doesn’t understand that what he’s doing is dangerous. He doesn’t understand that you’re there to protect him and keep his best interests at heart. All Monkey Boy knows is that he wants that, you’re not giving it to him, and he’s going to cry until he throws up, dang it, and you’re going to clean it up and smile all the live long time you’re doing it.
Monkey Boy convicted me.
As a type-A planner, I hate not knowing what’s going to happen. Worse than that, I hate thinking I know what’s going to happen and then having my bubble burst at the last minute. I hate when my structure disintegrates and I have to…gasp…live in the moment. I’m not always open to new arrangements or being pushed out of my comfort zone. If I want to do something, I’m going to do it. And you’re not going to stop me, they’re not going to stop it, and He most certainly isn’t going to stop me.
And this puts me into a bind because sometimes I just don’t make the right choices. And sometimes the choices aren’t even bad. Just…not what I need. And so I find myself so close, only to feel strong hands dragging my feet back, away from the things that I think I need. And I look up at the owner of these strong hands with a look that says, “Really? You’re kidding me, right?”
But is it possible that there’s something I don’t see? Maybe I’m not able to process or comprehend exactly what it is that I’m supposed to be doing. Maybe there’s something there that I’m not seeing. Maybe the person I’m looking at, asking why he’s so mean to me is simply looking out for me and keeping me safe.
It doesn’t mean that I have to like it. What I want still looks so inviting. But maybe, just maybe there’s a reason.