The Best Summer Job
Teaching fourth grade has been the most rewarding and grueling job I've ever had. I'm going into my third year of teaching this August, and the fun, intensity, and toil of the task still challenge me in many ways.
I was so grateful to have spent the month of June doing a job that was not exactly teaching, but still in the same vein. I spent the past month watching two little kids four days a week, and it could not have been more perfect for me.
Just like when i began teaching, I doubted my abilities to be a fun and imaginative babysitter. I've been enraptured in the world of academia for so long that my fun and goofy side tends to be a bit rusty. But just like teaching fourth grade, it only took a matter of minutes before robot-like Theresa and the kids found our own hilarious groove and sped off to do fun things.
We all know the importance of rest. I am recently convicted of the supreme value in good leisure time and recovery from work. I look forward to days spent by the pool reading a good book and sleeping in, when I don't think about the next deadline or the upcoming busyness that never seems to go away.
What I didn't value as much before spending time with these two children is the supreme value of fun. Though we had a few minor tantrums and tears over toys and nap-time crankiness, we had a blast during the month of June.
It was a really tangible way for me to practice being a parent and to think hard about the type of mom I want to be.
We went to the Science Center downtown and had hours of fun with machines and experiments. We swam for at least an hour or two in the pool every day. I became quite good at saving the day from an unwelcome cockroach or horrific dead bug floating the pool, and I mastered the art of filling up water guns. We went to a splash pad at the mall and I felt a "mama bear' type of rage swell up inside of me when some crazy kid decided it would be a good idea to terrorize every smaller child with violent splashes of water.
We learned letter sounds with the intense bribery of chocolate chips. When we found out that my own baby was a boy, we made a celebratory cake, which was supposed to be blue but ended up being orange and pink because those were the favorite colors anyway, and I said my baby didn't mind at all.
I got really good at backscratching, and there are plenty of Dr. Suess books of which I know every line. I am decent at playing Barbies and I had the grit to power through a two hour game of Uno between two players.
I learned the pleasant rhythm that comes with making the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, brushing teeth, reading books, and teaching a three and six year old to be more self sufficient.
And, surprisingly, I found that a routine of order was easy to establish and maintain. Fun didn't mean chaos. Falling into a steady rhythm and routine made the fun more fun, and I never felt out of control.
I have so many quotes from the month of June that I'll be chuckling over all summer long. "You know, Mrs. Namenye, if you do gymnastics then your baby will fall out!", "Dinosaurs can't eat me once I'm able to drive and can speed away, obviously", and "You know why my Dad go to work during the week anyway? To bring home the bacon, of course."
Dosteoyevsky wrote that “the soul is healed by being with children.” Well, I also think that a busy and restless twenty-something soul is healed by popsicles, naps, and creativity, and that the laughter of children is a balm to the adulting woes of my life.
I can't recommend it enough.