Today was more like a work day than I’ve had in recent memory. I got a reminder call this morning regarding my duties this afternoon as Helper Parent / Snack Parent at my children’s preschool co-op. My husband and my experiences differ, but I am so far very impressed by our choice of school which features low tuition, professional staffing and scheduling follow-through, a great ratio (seven kids to at least two teaching adults), kid crafts that are somehow elaborate, beautiful, but kid-friendly, a plethora of books and songs, and a rather academically-oriented program. I looked forward to today’s school day.
But after last shift’s debacle I was left wondering a bit if my attitude and my menu needed an adjustment. I thought it through and came up with non-health-nut fare: carrot sticks with dipping sauce, pink lady apples, and homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
As it turned out, the actual class time was great. Because there are so few children, I am already getting to know them and their individual natures. The shy reed-thin artist who meticulously colors inside lines, cuts exacting shapes, is quiet and polite but rages like a maniac during Open Gym time. The Observer with sleepy blue eyes and tangled fawn hair, very thoughtful and deliberate in contributions to the conversation. The tall red-head who watches shyly and levelly with an almost adult gaze and when you return the look smiles in a big, toothy gap. Then there is it – a creature I have mentally coined “The Monsturd” because of its bossiness, rudeness, lack of any native please or thank you and, for two sessions in a row, very obtuse comments about the food served. This particular child took a break from free time where everyone else was playing to come over and point to the first thing I was putting on the plates – ceasar dressing for dipping carrot sticks – and said, “I don’t like that.” “OK,” I reply, moving around the table and trying not to feel irritation. “I DON’T LIKE THAT” the little reptile said again, more loudly. “I don’t care. Go back and play.” Readers, I am not prone to speaking that way to any children but my own, whom I would likely hug and apologize to after. My lack of empathetic response during what was mostly a lovely day should indicate just how appalling I find the child’s behavior.
Note to self: practice tolerance and love. Praise children I find difficult to like.
Despite one or two annoyances, I loved my time with the children today. I observe my Sophie is very adroit in reading, spelling, “math” (memorizing phone numbers and counting days of the month), and even the artistic projects, which she finishes quickly and efficiently. I find myself wondering if she, like me, will find school easy and if she will enjoy it as much as I did. As much as I liked school I did not, as some might worry, grow up “performance-oriented” or what I like to think of as Lisa Simpson syndrome. I find myself – I’m horrified to admit – taking her natural prowess for granted and focusing on anything she isn’t doing perfectly – “Sophie, you need to sit still during story time,” “Sophie, don’t lose your ponytail holder today.” Etc. Etc.
Note to self: let own children relax during their preschool hours. Surrender their behavior to their teachers’ and peers’ moderation.
Nels loved time with the big kids, too. His modus operandi: find whichever kid was doing the wiggliest storytime sitting, the loudest singing, and copy. Pure bliss.
np – Muse’s Origin Of Symmetry. No one else in my personal sphere seems to realize how great this album is.