For six weeks I have walked the blue and gold hallways of my old elementary school with 40 or so kids trying to keep them entertained and from killing each other. My goal was simple. I wanted to be a friend to every kid who walked through the door.
Never have I ever worked with kids in such a close capacity. Sure, I have babysat, worked with kids at church, and kept my fair share of the nursery. However, I never had to continue working with the same kids for such a long duration.
I walked in my first day staring at several little faces not knowing a single kid. All sorts of kids stared back. Little kids, big kids, medium-sized kids, kids with broken hearts, kids with troubled family lives, mean kids, nice kids, and kids who possessed more imagination than I ever thought possible.
Not much effort is required to tug at my heart-strings, and anything can fall out of kid’s mouth. I’ve heard more sad stories about twisted family trees, pets dying, apathetic parents, and the list continues. I’ve tried to always be a friend to even the worst acting kids. I wonder what some of my kids go home to, and how happy they are, which is my primary reason for never wanting to yell at children.
Yes, all of my kids have pushed my buttons this summer. They’ve all left messes, climbed the wrong things, talked too loudly, don’t listen, and pretend I am not there when telling them sit down. I truly hate jumping their case, but everyone needs correction now and then. I just never want to yell or lose my cool with a kid.
I remember what it was like to be a sensitive little kid. I would cry when I had to pull my yellow card for a warning much less get called out in front of all the others. For the most part, my job consists of hanging out with kids. Even though I am charge of them, I’d rather be a friend than a dictator. I would never want anything I said to destroy a kid, which is why I never yell. Call me a pushover if you must. I am not the best disciplinarian, and I hate sending kids to timeout or making them sit alone for punishment.
As these long, hot days dwindled by, I played endless games of four square, Super Mario Brothers, and Uno. I swam and splashed kids in the pool with 100 degree weather beating down. I gave piggy back rides and played intense soccer games with older kids, cutting my knees and realizing I am not in shape like they are.
More often and not, I would rather watch then play with kids because they always cheat and get angry when I beat them. Just because they are in the fifth grade doesn’t entitle them to always win, you know. I liked to sit from my blue bench or the wooden picnic table in the shade and watch. I truly forgot what it was like to have such an active, deep imagination. I watched my kids fight zombies, aliens, perform plays, gymnastics, and try to dig to China.
Tomorrow ends my days of watching kids for eight or nine hours a day. During our time together, I have developed relationships with most and enjoyed getting to be apart of their life for this short time. I knew I would become attached to some of these kids, some I will probably never see again. I worry for some of them, and I wonder what kind of people they will become. More than anything, I want these kids to be happy like I was when I was their age.
I could never teach kids 180 days of the year. I wouldn’t want to keep a classroom environment all day, and you probably never want me to teach your kid math anyways. Even though I could make them the coolest grammar guru ever, I would rather hang out with them. Talk to them. Discover what’s going on behind the faces with a few teeth missing. Most importantly, I just want to make them smile and let them have fun being young while they can.
Some days, I watch my kids and think about badly I want to be a kid again. No responsibilities, endless possibilities.