Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Painful, the Precious, and the Priceless

The past two and a half weeks have been both exhausting and exhilarating.  There are so many things about daycare that really make the experience for me.  Some of them are bad, but many of them are good.  I thought it would be fun to talk about some of them.  Originally, I wanted to call it "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," but that would means I’d be talking about more bad stuff than good stuff, and it also would mean that I’d have to end with the bad stuff.  Instead, I want to do something I have decided to call “The Painful, the Precious, and the Priceless.”  :)  “The Painful” is where I’ll talk about the bad or annoying things about working at a daycare.  “The Precious” is where I’ll talk about all the cute or funny things kids do and about the silly or sardonic thoughts I have come up with as I’ve been working.  Finally, “The Priceless” is where I’ll talk about the happy or tender moments that really make daycare worth it.

The Painful

  • Transitions: trying to get three-year-olds to go from one activity to another, no matter what activity you’re trying to transition from or to, is terrible!  Especially nap time.  Trying to get all the kids to go to sleep is enough to drive me up the wall!

  • Cleaning up: from endless toys to juice spills to bodily fluids, I’ve seen it all; I’ve long since stopped being disgusted by it, but it sure is a pain to always be cleaning up.

  • Ten-hour shifts: as if I don’t already have to crawl home from exhaustion…

  • Sandboxes: sand in eyes, ears, hair, shoes, and clothes and all over my classroom, not to mention flipped all over the playground.

  • Fights: seriously, why can’t kids get along for more than three seconds without hitting or pushing each other?

  • Getting spit on, peed on, or thrown up on.  Enough said.

  • Tantrums: last time I checked, it wasn’t necessary to start screaming when someone sits too close to you.

  • Germs: I’m pretty sure all those rules about washing hands and sanitizing are put in place to protect the teachers from getting sick, not the kids!  :)  Too bad it doesn’t work.

The Precious

  • Silly stories, songs, and nursery rhymes: how could “this little piggy” have roast beef; isn't that bordering on cannibalism?  And why did Jack "plaster his head with vinegar and brown paper"?  Um, weird!  :)

  • Naptime: sometimes I think little kids are cutest when they’re asleep!  :)

  • Awkward questions: how do you explain acne to a three-year-old when she asks you why there are “bubbles” on your forehead?

  • Unexpected reactions: how can a child turn down a homemade chocolate chip cookie?!?!?!  (It’s true—on Friday we served homemade chocolate chip cookies for a snack, and some of the kids either turned them down or didn’t finish theirs!  Really?!)

  • Precocious moments: one of the two-year-olds said “Bless you” when I sneezed.  Ha!

  • Teacher Appreciation Week: I love getting gifts from grateful parents!

  • Girl power: while the boys in the toddler room can’t hold still for more than ten seconds while waiting for their turn for snack, the girls can sit quietly for several minutes while waiting their turn.  What does this say about how they'll grow up?  ;)

  • Jabbering: I love baby talk and two-year-old jargon with a ridiculous passion.  Very little can make me smile faster than hearing my kiddos chattering.

The Priceless

  • Building sand castles: the looks of excitement and wonder on my three-year-olds’ faces when they see me create a perfect “sand castle” using a sand bucket are so adorable and totally worth the trouble of playing in the sandbox.  The kids even offered me a turn to destroy one of the castles.  :)

  • Presents from kids: my favorites are the adorable pictures the children draw for me.

  • Playing monster: despite the fact that it increases my exhaustion, chasing my little three-year-olds then hearing them giggle and seeing them grin when I catch them and spin them around always makes my day.

  • Singing songs: few sights are more precious than little two- and three-year-olds exuberantly following along with the actions to our favorite children’s songs, and few sounds are more pleasing to my ears than those of children singing those songs at the tops of their voice, even if they may not know all the words.  :)

  • Holding children on my lap: so much fun!  And having a normally resistant child sit on my lap and snuggle with me is the epitome of success in my book!

  • Hugs: getting literally swarmed by all of my adorable little three-year-olds when I arrive in class every day has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

  • Love: discovering that I love the children in my charge almost as much as a mother loves her own children and hearing them tell me that they love me too.  What an amazing feeling!

I love working at the daycare!  It's tiring, and it's often enough to drive me out of my mind.  But the rewards I receive are well worth the effort I put into it.  I'd like to see if anyone else has that kind of job satisfaction from a summer job!  :)

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