This semester I’m taking JO506 – AKA Columns & Editorials. Our first assignment was to write an introductory column on anything we like, so I decided to write about working with kids. Below is my very first attempt at a column. More attempts to follow!
On Childcare: An Introduction
“Max! Stop divebombing off the tot dock, you’re making me nervous,” I say, immediately realizing how ridiculous that sounds coming out of my mouth. And what a load of good it does; Max, being the feral five-year-old he is, pauses for two nanoseconds before re-launching himself off the pool riser into my there-just-in-time arms.
Kids, am I right? In my eight years as a swim instructor I’ve seen just about everything the under-13 crowd can throw at me: tantrums, boogers, silent treatments, pumpkins (don’t ask) and enough tears to fill all five pools I’ve worked for. I’ve witnessed first-graders fight Hunger Games-style over dive toys, diffused who-goes-first arguments like a hostage negotiation and wiped up all manner of toddler fluids from the pool deck. Bottom line: I’m a seasoned professional when it comes to working with children.
Hectic as it is, working with kids is its own special kind of magic. Every day on the job is a lesson in joyful insanity. Sure, there are low points, but the good moments far outnumber the bad: the giggles, snorts, smiles, hugs and occasional gifted crayon drawing all make what I do worth it. And those are just reasons off the top of my head – I could (and might!) write a whole column on why I keep coming back to the job. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a picture with my name misspelled on top.
The aim of this column is to share my working experiences – good and bad – with you: the nannies, schoolteachers, daycare workers and other childcare professionals reading this magazine. Hopefully it turns into a space where we can discuss issues and assets particular to our line of work; nothing is more important to me than feedback from my readers. As caretakers, we have a special duty to those under our charge. We’re privy to the most fundamental years of a child’s life; more than anything that means we have to be nurturing and understanding at all times. Even when we’re getting our hair pulled or discussing Frozen for the 84th time we have to remember that patience is indeed a virtue and that timeouts are a perfectly acceptable way to get some damn peace and quiet.
The highlight of today’s venture? By the end of the lesson my mini-daredevil Max is back-floating all by himself for the very first time. The following excited “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” is so heartwarming that I almost forgive him for his Evil Knievel tendencies.