I’ve never had a job I enjoyed more than this summer at the Summer Program. I’ve also never worked harder in my life or been more exhausted at the end of the day. Working with kids will do that to you.
On average there would be three or four counselors and 70-80 kids in a single room. The first thing I really picked up on is those who don’t deal well with chaos do not belong in the childcare field. Even on the best days that place was a madhouse. We had group dodgeball games going in the middle of the court with freeze dance in one corner and arts and crafts in another. Board games would be scattered all over the place, along with screaming kids who thought it would be more fun to play in the bathrooms than in the actual space designated for playing.
The thing is, once I accepted that the place was gonna be insane whether I liked it or not I was able to relax and do my job without worrying. Dodgeball games are supposed to be ridiculous and energetic. That’s basically the essence of most small children. I liked how bouncy most of them were because it was a sign they were having fun. Taking them outside was the best because I got to sit and have a nice talk in the shade with the teenagers who were too cool to play on the jungle gym and the kids who wanted a little break while the rest of the savages worked off their energy by jumping around on the equipment and launching themselves off slides. I really liked those talks. One day I had my hair decorated with dandelions and was crowned as a flower princess. Another I listened to a girl explain why she had to go to court once she turned 18 because she had to testify against her father who hit her and her mother. Stories like that were hard to hear, and I had to sit through more than one, but it was important that they knew I was there to listen when they needed it. That was half the job, listening to what they had to say. Even if it was a suggestion of what we could do for an art project, I made sure we did it because they needed to know there was at least one place in their life where their ideas could be heard.
Kids really think adults have it together. I honestly wish it were true. They don’t realize that we’re all just living our lives and hoping we don't fuck up too bad. At the end of the day I’m just another idiot trying to help them figure their shit out. It's a pretty great gig.
Have you ever given a child advice? How’d it go?