Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Kids

I once maintained a blog about my life. It's now defunct, and I needn't share it with you as it was a personal (not professional) blog. If you feel offended, or off-put, or overtly curious about why I might not share, take a moment to reflect on Context Collapse and feel satisfied that I'm only properly conducting myself online (insert smiley face here).

However, I will share one post.

I wrote this post on July 11, 2011. It's on kids. A friend shared with me that this blog post inspired her to quit her job and go into childcare, which is so humbling at a visceral level that I can't even articulate how that made me feel in words.

I figured I'd share it here because it's relevant to the topic of this professional blog, and because after going back and re-reading it three years later, I want to remember everything I felt the day and I sat down to write it. So here it is:

"Kids: They dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music." William Stafford

Ask anyone who knew me growing up and they'd have laughed at the thought of me working with kids. And by laugh I mean wince. I wasn't known to be caring. Nurturing never suited me, and for all the female anatomy I possess (you know, just the usual), maternal instincts never seemed to fuse within my genes. I was insensitive, youngest-child selfish, and maybe even slightly oblivious to the outside world and those who wandered around it. God help me, how I ended up becoming a teacher has yet to be reconciled in my brain. All I know is that whatever cosmic mishap or post adolescent idealism got in the way of a more lucrative livelihood deserves to be applauded. Revered.

Kids. Oh my god, kids. They opened my heart more than I care to admit, and far more than I can assume shows. I nanny for elementary aged kids during the summer and just today I had to stop, close my eyes, and wonder how a ten year old could make me so happy. There's just something about these little people that reminds me of how much of an idiot I am, and how much better I ought to be. Seriously. They've got it figured out. Kids smile when they're happy. They eat when they're hungry. They yell and kick and fight for what they want. They show love because they love you and disdain because they don't. They live moment to moment in a seemingly endless quest to have fun, all the while entertaining ignited brains whose concept of limit and impossibility are advantageously underdeveloped. They're so damn fun, and if you spend even a little time with them...not as an adult, or parent, or caregiver, or teacher, but as a peer...you begin to realize how easily you can revert to that mentality. And then you smile.

We were swimming at the beach today. We took turns pulling each other in the inner tube, ate fruit snacks between refreshing dips, built sandcastles with rooms you could look into, complete with sofas and thrones. We buried each other in sand, let popsicle drops drip down our sun burnt chins, commented on the way the woman next to us seemed to be sitting in a peculiar way. We didn't want, we simply were, and that's an amazing place to be.

I'm certain I'll write a lot about teaching, so I'll share those stories another time. Not to mention my nephews, who I might love more than anything in this world. But for now, I thank the kids. I credit them with opening something up in me that had previously lied dormant and dull. I am the best version of myself when I'm among them, and they haven't the slightest idea of what they've given to me. It's a little bit love, a little bit maternal, but mostly valuable perspective and a passion for something in this world I can devote myself to exultantly. 

Never underestimate them, talk down to them, discourage them. They'll consistently rise to your highest expectations, impress you with their imaginative sagacity, and teach you so much if you're willing to revert and learn. Every kid is an artist until they're told they're bad at art, a singer until they're told they missed a note. Every kid's an engineer until they're scolded for building a fort, a gymnast until they're told to stay in their seat. Every single kid is a scientist until it's no longer polite to play with your food. 

I love them so much sometimes that it actually hurts. And frankly, that's just someone I never thought that I could be.

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