I work in childcare, a job I love and enjoy very much. No two days are the same and the children definitely keep me on my toes, but I would not change it for the world. I love my job. As you probably guessed from the title, this is just a little piece about the conversations I have had with the children over the course of my job.
I was on the early shift one morning, and as I walked into the daycare centre I finished my cup of coffee, threw the disposable cup in the rubbish and prepared myself for the long day ahead. It being early there were only a few children hanging around so while it was quiet I started setting up and getting the day's activities prepared, except you can't call them activities anymore they are 'learning experiences'. Activity is too broad a term and implies that no learning is involved. Don't ask me how political correctness works. Anyway, as I was setting up one of the four-year-old girls came over and asked if she could help.
"Sure," I told her, giving her simple instructions as I handed down a small basket to her so that she could take it to the table.
"You look different," she told me as she waited for her next set of instructions.
"How do I look different?" I asked.
She thought on this for a moment and came to the conclusion that I somehow looked different today than I had the day before. "I know," she said loudly, I now realise that this was a little too loudly for my liking as the other teacher heard, as did some of the parents. "You're fatter than yesterday."
All I could think to reply was "Oh?" and then quickly change the subject to something happier and more upbeat about my overnight weight gain from the perspective of a four-year-old. Apparently, I needed to do more than just walk/jog each evening, in her eyes.
Another incident that sticks out in my mind is, one day as I was crouching down to comfort a child, my pants rode down slightly and my blue lacy knickers were exposed for a brief moment. At that moment one of the boys just happened to notice and he pointed and laughed. The story of the teacher's blue lacy underwear spread like wild fire around the centre, causing giggles and light teasing. This carried on with the older boys for the next half hour, who made comments at every opportunity they could. Which, now that I think about it, that wasn't much different to my own kindergarten experience of boys pointing and laughing at my underwear. Or one of the boys pulling down my skirt one day and pantsing me. Or skirtsing, I suppose?
"You have big boobs," I was told one day, by one little girl who was particularly loud and proud about things. Children have no filter anyway, but this girl took it to a whole new level. "They're bigger than my mummy's."
Thank you? I thought, unsure of how to answer that one. At least she realised the difference between big and little, and that some things were bigger than others, even if it was breast size. At least she was paying attention in the basic numeracy lessons we gave the pre-school age children.
I have had children multiple times tell me that they will tell their parents on me, when I have stopped them from doing certain things. Telling them off, some would say, except you're not supposed to call it that anymore. One boy was throwing sand at another, I told him not to, his response was to threaten to tell his uncle on me.
"I'll get my uncle," he said. "He's really tall and scary!"
Again, I sort of took that as a small victory as he knew the difference between tall and short, big and little, and he had figured out that we perceive tall people as being more authoritative or scary than shorter people. With those perception skills, that kid is going places.
I have long hair. Very long hair actually. I can very nearly sit on my hair, so even when it is tied up and 'out of the way' it's still in the way. Some of the children like to play hairdressers and they ask me to take my hair out so they can tie it up for me and play with it. I learned my lesson after the first time when I had to cut a hair tie out of my hair as one of the girls had made a big, knotty mess. I can guarantee you, that there is one child who asks if they can have the scissors. There is always that one kid who wants to cut hair, which is why we only give out scissors if they are asked for. Every other time they are kept in the teachers' cupboard until requested, and even then we make sure there is supervision.
Our daycare centre was renovated at the beginning of the year, during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Before the renovations, to get to the staff bathroom you had to go through the babies side, as our centre is divided into 'unders' and 'overs'. Unders being children aged six months to two years, overs being two to five-year-olds, as children start school at age five here in New Zealand. On the overs side, there are additional learning groups with the pre-school children doing, well pre-school things while the toddlers go at their own pace.
On the babies side, one of the girls was two years old and ready to transfer over to the big kids' side, and every time someone had to go the bathroom you would walk through the classroom of the babies. Every time this girl would ask "Poos or wees?"
Of course, you're never going to say "I have to go poos," because people are very particular about their bathroom habits.
Every time she asked "Poos or wees," we would always answer with wees, as it is a slightly more neutral and socially acceptable thing to say than poos.
Except children haven't grasped the concept of social acceptance yet, and every day multiple children will race up to me and say, "I just did poos in the toilet," and you have to congratulate them because toilet training and moving from nappies, or diapers for our American friends, is a big thing for children. It has made me think, though, when do you stop getting congratulated for going to the toilet? When does that stop happening? It would be weird if every time a middle-aged person came out of the staff bathroom at the office, for example, and they were congratulated and cheered on by their co-workers. That would be embarrassing, but for children, it's a point of accomplishment and recognition, and I get that it just does make one think sometimes.
As you can see, these events are in no particular order. I guess by next week I will have more stories to share about my job. That's the thing about working with children, they can be a constant source of entertainment and stories to tell around the dinner table when you get home, as I am sure all parents are aware.