I feel like I should have a little video camera set up on a tripod in a closet in front of a bare wooden stool for this. Okay, here goes – Confession time – A big old truth-storm coming right at you, just between you and me:
I Hate Kids.
That was a weight off my chest.
Now for the explanation: I love my children. I love your children. I am fascinated by child development, both normal and exceptional. I have always connected easily with children, and I spent most of my adolescent spare time babysitting and helping out with the children’s programs at my church.
It logically followed that I skipped off to university starry-eyed and determined to become The Very Best Kindergarten Teacher Ever. By the end of my very first day of my very first placement in a preschool classroom, I found myself (figuratively) rocking back and forth in the fetal position muttering, “Oh god. I hate kids. I hate them. What on earth made me think I wanted to do this?”
Some soul-searching later, I realized that a love of children does not necessarily equate a love of working with children, and even a love of working with children does not equate a love of working with lots of children. In mathematical terms, ∴ I love kids ≠ I should be a teacher.
I have many, many wonderful friends who are amazing teachers, and I have so much respect for their being able to do and love a job that I would rather stick needles in my eyes than pursue. They make it seem so effortless when all I can think is “But HOW? How do you get them to all sit down at once? What do you do when one of them runs off? How do you get them to all listen to you? HOW DO YOU DO IT WITHOUT YOUR FREAKING HEAD EXPLODING??”
Last year, I started up a Cherub Choir at my church. This was rather a frustrating exercise, due I think to a combination of lack of enthusiasm/participants and the fact that it coincided with the height of my (untreated) depression, and throughout last year I felt a constant push/pull within myself between “If my friends really cared, they would bring their kids out to support me!” and, “I am choosing to provide this service and it’s not my friends’ responsibility to populate it!”
I was on the verge of calling the whole thing off one Sunday morning as I arrived, yet again with just my two kids in tow, only to find a strange 12 year-old girl waiting, alone, in the church – her name was Aimee, she said in teenaged upspeak. “I saw your sign downtown? I’m here for the kids choir? To be a youth helper?” She had come with the grudging consent of her mom, who had given her permission to go for choir practice but not to stay for church because she wasn’t dressed properly for it. Aimee’s arrival ended that push/pull in my head with a swift kick in the butt of, “Okay, now I get it – I’m doing this for that shy, lonely 12 year-old who took a chance and found a place where for half an hour every Sunday she felt like she belonged.”
This year, my choir grew from two (Ben and Molly) to three and now to FIVE kids. Can you believe it? MORE THAN HALF of the choir is now NOT the fruit of my loins!! I’m torn between delirious excitement and abject terror – which brings us back to the part where I Hate Kids, because this is starting to feel suspiciously like a teaching gig. But weirdly enough, it’s also feeling kind of fun. And rewarding. And not as hard as it used to be.
Maybe the times, they are a-changin’, just a little bit.