Working with kids (mainly ages 12 to 20 months) is a huge eye-opening experience on multiple levels. Its amazing to watch how much and how quickly they learn, but on the flipside, the fact that they are learning the majority of it while I'm not paying attention is scary. This week merited a huge wake up call on my part. Let me illustrate -

I was picking up a child to set her on my lap, when suddenly I bumped a hangnail that was on my thumb, and it hurt like CRAZY. I made a little yelp, and immediately stuck my thumb in my mouth. Lali (the girl on my lap, about one and a half years old) didn't notice anything, but to my surprise Tavin (who'll be two in a few months) came running over to me at full speed with a look of concern in his eyes. He asked, "She bite? (translation: Did she bite you?)" while patting my arm. I smiled and said no. It really touched me that his reaction was probably a very close imitation of how he saw me and my fellow teachers respond to an 'owie.'

Later on in the week, complete pandemonium was ensuing during lunchtime. There was food everywhere, and many of the children were dumping their sippy cups out onto their plates and smushing the concoctions around, art-sculpture style. The ones who weren't engaged in that pursuit were either crying or running around the room.

Lunchtime is usually hectic, since all of the kids are tired and hungry. That day was worse than usual, however. In a last ditch attempt to establish some kind of order, I asked Ben to sit in his chair. He did, but when I turned around again, he was up on it again, and jumping. I was startled, a bit scared, and alot irritated when I blurted out, "Benedict!!" (That's his real first name.) It wasn't loud, but it wasn't kind, either. He was a little agast, and sat down. As he did, Rory (one of the older toddlers), looked in Ben's direction and said in the same tone that I had used, "Ben-nih-nid!" He scowled as he said it, and Ben's little expression fell when his friend berated him.

I can assure you that I have no desire to ever use the full-name-treatment again. Working with my babies is like holding up a very honest mirror to my own disposition and actions, and it helps me to get some kind of taste of what having my own children and being a parent is going to be like someday. Beautiful, but also occasionally terrifying.

No comments: