Well folks, I suppose I should’ve learned by now to take the good with the bad. It’s just all so confusing though. Who knew that the life of a second grade teacher could be so filled with internal conflict and contrary dialogue?!
In any one moment I can go from completely hating small children, to being absolutely and completely happy with the fact that they are currently my life. When I started teaching, everything about this life was new to me. I’d never been surrounded by a dozen and a half little kids all of the same age and ornery persuasion. I’d never dealt with parents who couldn’t even a little understand my approach towards children, and who had difficulty with the idea of disciplining their children in the slightest.
Now I’ve been doing it for seven weeks (feels like 7 years…) and I still haven’t learned its secrets.
Having come from a family with 8 younger siblings and 1 elder, you’d think that I’d either absolutely love or absolutely hate children. Neither of these things is the case, however. I’m completely impartial toward them as a whole. When I see kids in general I tend to ignore them and go on my way, unless one seems particularly apt, in which case I grin ever so slightly and …continue on my way. If they’re particularly obnoxious kids I run into, I roll my eyes and thank the good lord that I have yet to stumble into the circumstance of having one of my own. In those moments I cannot stand children, or the thought of having one of my own.
I’ve always enjoyed babysitting, but that never meant I wanted kids. I’ve always liked holding little infants, but again, that never meant I wanted one of my own. I’ve always enjoyed ‘meaningful’ conversations with slightly older children, but never… you get the picture.
So when this teaching position was offered to me out of the blue, I didn’t really know what to say. I’ve a degree in philosophy, FFS, not early education. And you’re going to just hand me 19 little second graders?! Are you out of your mind?
But after seven weeks of muddling through and doing my best, I can now say that despite the hard bits, I’m starting to enjoy this.
Sometimes I want to punt one of these kids through the back window into the neighbor’s yard. Sometimes I want to duct tape their mouths shut. Sometimes I want to erase their memories so they’ll stop asking questions about my life when I’ve accidentally let a detail slip. Sometimes I want to quit my job and let somebody else play with the little cretins and deal with their never ending tomfoolery. Sometimes I want to uninvent the words poop, poo, butt, fart, kiss, boyfriend, girlfriend, stupid, dummy, jerk, and burp. Because when you’re a second grader these are the funniest damn words in the whole world. If you say any of these words even in the most innocent of contexts, you’ve got a half hour debacle on your hands and wasted every bit of energy you may have had.
Other times I love reading to my kids. I love their hugs and sheepish grins when they realize they’ve accidentally let me know I’m their favorite. I love the red faced blushes of the little boys when they’ve accidentally called me “ma” or “pa” (wtf? PA?? Really?) I adore the little notes I sometimes find left for me that say “We ♥ Miss Ratajczak” (even though they usually spell it more like “Ratichk”). I love the random occasions when I’ll talk to a parent and they’ll just casually say “yes, SoAndSo just loves this class, they’re really enjoying themselves” and I have to refrain from “what? really? No way! I didn’t know they liked me! Sweeeeeeet!” and instead let “I’m so glad to hear that” suffice.
So I haven’t had one of those “this child is BRILLIANT! This teaching thing is so rewarding” moments, but I’ve started to have those teeny little barely-there heart-warmed moments, and that is making all the difference.