A little flashback to my first day interacting with kids, posing as an adult, when I myself was still a child. The world of children can be a scary place for the new and unprepared.
I was and am quite close to my younger brother who is 7 years younger to me. You know, I would try purple eye shadow on him, try draping the sari in different styles to suit him, someone I even had a ‘dance routine’ with… you get the drift. Shah, went to a nursery school. His bff- Ray- was also our neighbor. Same age, same class, inseparable, a team I often envied.
On Shah’s birthday, the school requested a parent to be in class and help cut the cake, hand out party favors, etc. I volunteered to do this, and little did I know what my 10 year old self was about to experience.
Key incidents that took place when I reached his school:
1. His teacher was sick and took a day off. Why me?
2. Since I was always tall for my age, and for my good luck I wore a skirt and blouse that day, which happened to be the dress code for the school teachers, I was appointed as a substitute for the day.
Here started my traumatic experience.
I vividly remember this one boy. Let’s call him Yusuf. Dark skin, sharp features, nice and round, who wouldn’t stop crying! Like, really- continuous flow of mucus and tears streaming down his face, non-stop! He wouldn’t let go of his backpack or thermos around his neck because he believed any second his dad would come to his rescue. I didn’t know how to help him, and I wasn’t very sorry for him, just felt helplessly unable to speak in his native language, and mainly, grossed out. Which brings us to:
Lesson One: Kids are gross.
Shah and Ray, generally great friends within our homes, weren’t very nice to each other in class. I’d known them for four years but that day I saw a side of them I hadn’t seen ever; they wouldn’t share ANYTHING, they wouldn’t look at each other, fought pettily, and kept snapping at the other. I felt rather betrayed by their lack of warmth. Lesson Two: Kids are mean and the innocence is mere show.
After a few nursery rhymes recital sessions ( apparently, I didn’t know many, and the kids couldn’t care lesser about my instructions and were very picky about which ones to sing), playing with blocks, puzzles, and toys whose purpose of existence I couldn’t figure ( I learned that variety doesn’t do well with kids. If there are 20 kids, then the class should have 20 toys of the same kind and color. This would save a loooot of drama), finally it was time for a Snack Break. God knew I needed to fuel my body!
Just as I settled to take the first bite of my PB & J, a little girl came crying to me. It took me a good 7 minutes to understand between her broken English and stifling sobs that a boy had taken her flavored milk box. I was appalled! Kids so young had learned the joy of stealing someone else’s food and having it under her nose. I went on to wonder, Wow, boys are rogues, no matter how young or old. The girl was inconsolable, so I reached to the help of a fellow teacher.
This lovely woman, without a second thought, walked into the class, to the girl’s bag and took out the milk box that belonged to the girl. As if nothing had happened! Straw in seal and all! It hadn’t occurred to me that this little chic just assumed the boy had stolen her drink and couldn’t have brought his own. Okay, I should’ve known better, but I thought it was rude to go through another human’s bag, no matter how tiny the bag or person. Lesson 3: Kids over-think. The drama begins at a much earlier age than one can imagine.
Lesson 4: It never ends, nor does it get better.
I live with two and I see it first hand.
The drama I have keyed (typed) is what I encountered with only 3-4 students out of the class’s 20-25 kids. There are about 15 untold stories within. This incident had scarred me enough to decide never to become a teacher, ever, and probably never even have kids.
I did get over this trauma, of course. I grew up; got married, have two destructive monkey boys of my own. I have taught in school, and now take private tuition. I do love teaching and working with children, but that incident shook me real bad at that young an age, and it still makes me shudder. Teachers of lower classes are the epitome of strength, patience, loyalty, diplomacy, and most of all, love.
Hats off to the amazing mothers, teachers, tutors, siblings, fathers, grandparents, and friends who deal with these little animals on a daily basis. This job is no joke!