Thursday, January 26, 2012

Schooled

Today I was a substitute teacher in a preschool class for three-year-olds.  I sub on occasion for my friend, who is the director of a daycare.  She was desperate; the regular teacher was sick.  Before I agreed to the job, I whined and moaned and mumbled something about having other stuff to do, as only a good friend can.

Teaching preschool isn’t what I would identify as my life’s calling.  I’ve done it enough times to know about the frustrations with having to decipher various levels of speech ability and self-control among small children.  There are plenty of sweet and funny moments, and it’s an easy way to make a few bucks, but I am definitely not fulfilled by spending time teaching kids how to cut with safety scissors.  I do enjoy children (hello, I have two of my own), but I’ve dealt with enough patience-testing situations with children (my own included) that help me to understand why some boarding schools start at two years old.

I steeled myself for what I expected would be a rather slow morning.  On the way there, I wondered why my friend wasn’t a fashion editor for Vogue and needed someone to try the new It bag, or why she wasn’t an A-list celebrity agent and needed someone to go with her to some fabulous Hollywood party.  I also prayed that I would not have to deal with any potty incidents or crafts that involve painting or art supplies beyond crayons and glue sticks.  Or maybe just crayons.

When I got there, I met eight smiley cherubs who were cuter than buttons under their heavy winter coats and child-sized backpacks.

One half of a set of twins examined my every move as her sister chattered about something to do with feeding pie to babies.  One kid sat me down and never broke eye contact as he narrated twelve scenes of the first Transformers movie with an endearing lisp.  Another boy held me in his liquid brown Bambi eyes as he said quite perfectly, “It surely is cold today, isn’t it?”  I could hardly bear to keep from tearing up from the cuteness as the pigtailed and heavily dimpled girl who insisted on holding her scissors upside down nodded at me earnestly as I repeated over and over to keep her fingers away from the blade.

There were no potty incidents, no battles of wills.  The kids and I were on our best behavior as we sang about the days of the week, completed puzzles, had a snack, and colored shapes.  By the time it was time to go, I was enjoying the slow pace of a three-year-old preschool class.  I found myself wishing that life were as simple as enjoying a packet of fruit snacks and cutting along a line.

No intellectual breakthroughs were made this morning.  The kids did not announce that this was the best day at school they’ve ever had.  The parents were all smiles as they picked up their angels, and I was happy that they shared their children with me for those few hours.

I guess teaching preschool isn’t the worst way to spend a couple of hours.  My friend knows that, and I’m already on the schedule again.

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