Tag Archives: Kids

Reasons why I can’t be an elementary school teacher

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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.

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Mya and Memphis

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Isaiah 58:12

When seven-year old Mya told me she didn’t care anything about her eighth birthday, I knew I had to change that. Any soon to be eight year old shouldn’t be that sad on her birthday.

For the past six days, I’ve found myself walking the steaming hot streets of Memphis, Tenn., knocking on doors and picking up kids for Bible club each day with Street Reach Ministries. To say this was an experience is an understatement.

Technically, I was in the “ghetto” of Memphis. I saw everything from shattered glass to shattered hearted kids on Mayflower Avenue. That’s the street I was assigned to pick up kids every day.

That’s exactly where I found Mya in a small, white vinyl house. The other girls I was walking up with knocked on the door. A dog I soon later found out was named Molly attacked the door with a thud scratching her way to get out. She didn’t know what to think of strangers.

Only a short few minutes later, I saw my blond haired, blue eyed Mya creep out the door. Her hair was tangled and she looked up at me with sad eyes.

Her other two friends bounded out with her, yet they didn’t look as sad as her. They walked along talking to us about ten year old things.  We soon got introductions out of the way, and we eventually knocked on all the doors of the other kids we were supposed to pick up.

As we arrived at our site, I was holding Mya’s hand, and I had her God sister, McKynsie on my back. We went throughout our daily activities of Bible club, and it was time to walk the kids home.

Mya’s house was our last stop since my group picked them up first. I held Mya’s hand on the way back too. She wasn’t feeling too good in the Memphis heat. And I am not going to lie, it was scorching weather.

She got tired of walking, so I lifted her on my already sweat drenched back. She didn’t care though. She was just glad someone was carrying her. As we walked, we talked. She told me her birthday was Thursday.

“Are you excited?” I asked. I was trying to sound enthusiastic. She had to be happy, or so I thought.

“Why would I care about my birthday,” she said. “I’ve already had seven of them. What’s one more mean?”

I couldn’t see her eyes or her facial expression. She was on my back doing the whole piggy-back ride deal. But, I felt my heart drop. What soon to be eight year old doesn’t get joy out of a day that’s supposed to be all about her?

I dropped her off at her house along with McKynsie and her other friend Danyel.  End of conversation. I walked back on looking down at the cracked pavement wishing there was something I could do. Then the duh moment struck. Of course, I could do something for her. Or at least something little.

I told my friend Lauren my idea, and on Wednesday night, we got Mya something little along with McKynsie since her birthday is actually tomorrow.

On that Thursday, I made sure to go to her house first on our pick-up route. When I knocked on the door this time, Molly bounded out and licked us. Turns out she was a friendly dog after all.

Everyone else came out of the house except for Mya. Her brother Joe, her god brother TJ, Danyel, McKynsie. Everyone else except for her. But finally after what seemed like a small eternity, she slipped on her small pink flip-flops and pushed open the door.

Happy Birthday Mya

As it screeched behind her, I pulled out my little contribution to her eight year old birthday. It was a small, plush penguin with huge blue eyes. When I told her happy birthday and that I loved her, her face lit up. She showed her mom, and she finally smiled a genuine smile with all her teeth showing. It was the first time I had seen her glowing with joy the entire week.

That same day while we were at Bible club, she thanked me for making her birthday so special. She hadn’t gotten any other gifts yet that day, and I hope she did eventually get more gifts that afternoon.

I didn’t see Mya today. Thursday was the last day I got to see her. I had the pleasure of coming in contact with so many kids this past week. Kids who have a rough life and just need someone to show them what loving others looks like.

I hope I was able to show Mya love even through a small plush penguin and all the piggy-back rides the girl could ever want. The way I see it, God had me there for a reason. I am pretty sure it was for Mya and her eighth birthday.  I am just glad I didn’t miss my purpose, and that God penciled me in for one of His divine appointments.