Monday morning has arrived. I am doing the usual things… drinking my coffee, letting the dog out, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. A tree is being taken down in our front yard today, so I went out to greet those guys and pay the bill. It feels like nothing is different; it’s just the beginning of another week.
But it’s not.
Today is the beginning of my last week in the world of early childhood. If you’ve been in my life for a minute, you might know that I have bounced back and forth between being a preschool teacher and professional nanny for the past 12 years or so. This is where I have found my purpose in the work world since graduating college with a degree in psychology (and I’m here to say that I’ve definitely found that degree useful in this field that so revolves around child development.)
This work has been both good and difficult; challenging at times and rewarding at other times. Seeing a kid’s face light up because they finally grasp a concept that you’re trying to teach them is a magical feeling, no matter the setting. When kids learn, it is so cool. Getting a toy or chair thrown at you in the heat of a child’s emotional outburst, not so cool.
You see? It has its ups and downs.
It is crazy what working with kids day in and day out for many years will teach you. I have so many stories about things kids have said to me (OUT LOUD) over the years. They say things you couldn’t make up if you tried, sometimes hilarious and other times poignant… sometimes both. Their innocence is the kicker – for example, the sincerity in one little guy’s voice that he does NOT in fact know what “that big blue thing outside is”… it had been raining for so many days in his short life that he truly didn’t remember that the sky was blue. That really speaks to me about the power of our experiences and beliefs.
Working with kids can be a joyful experience, but it is also very emotionally taxing. You’re trying to teach these little people who have only been alive for a couple years how to express, label, and regulate their emotions in healthy ways… doesn’t exactly sound like a light task, does it? This kind of work with kiddos takes a ton of patience, compassion, and perseverance. You pour all that into them, in hopes that this kid will be another kind, healthy human walking on this earth.
Someday, anyway. Today they might just decide to squeeze their avocado slices in anger or refuse to eat any bread with the crusts still intact. It’s a toss up but we keep on hoping for the best and working to make it so.
As I look toward the future with excitement and anticipation for what’s to come in my own life, I will try to hold dear the years spent surrounded by little ones with big hearts and curious minds. Though it was my job to care for and teach them, they offered their hugs and love freely. They left little footprints on my heart that will be there always.
Before I go, a special thanks to anyone out there who is pouring love into a child’s life. Your work is important. Don’t forget that.
~ Sonja K.