Working with kids is hard.
It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I've taken care of animals, worked as a museum attendant, and drove around giving people pizza but this, working with children, is fucking difficult. People underestimate those of us who are in this field because there's this weird idea that every childcare worker needs to be perfect and also they're job is easy so why aren't we all perfect?
Fuck that line of thinking. This shit is hard. I'm not even teaching yet, I'm running group games and helping out with emotional issues and I'm so worn out.
See, I have to deal with your children getting in "wars" with each other. And that's not me calling it a war, that's them. They're all either at an age or just about to reach the age where every situation they're in is this serious, life or death matter that will always have dramatic consequences. So when two little girls are best friends one day, and not talking the next it's not just a matter of ignoring each other and finding better people to hang out with; it's a fucking war to them (something I find eternally frustrating). I also have to play the same game every.single.day. The number of times I'm asked to play knockout is pure insanity. And I like the game, but not a three times every day kind of like. There are certain kids who aren't allowed to play certain games, certain siblings not allowed to be on the same team, certain little guys I have to make sure get enough attention and ball time that they don't get discouraged and quit. There are teens I can rely on to make good decisions as leaders to include everyone, and there are teens I won't take my eyes off of even if my hair's on fire because I know for a fact they'll pull some kind of shit. I have to explain why it's okay to hug for a short time but not too long or else it's not appropriate. I have to explain why it's okay to hug me but not climb on my arms and swing around. I have to explain that even if you're having fun and joking around it's not okay to hit someone in the nuts (also I have a genuine question: does it hurt boys as much getting hit in the nuts before puberty as it does after? Cause the way these little ones carry on when they get junk punched by their friends is just ridiculous).
And that alone would already be a lot, but then we add parents to the conversation and shit gets real. Because yes your kid was hit by someone but no I cannot tell you who because it is not okay for a grown adult to hunt a child down in the building and berate them for something they were already punished for five hours ago. And yes it is necessary to punish your child for threatening other members and staff because it's not just "boys being boys" it's a serious thing. Just the other week I was yelled at by a parent because her son didn't make it home on the bus from summer school. Was it my responsibility to make sure he was on the bus? No. Was it my job to look after him for free even though he's not a member of the club? No, but of course we're not going to turn him away when he obviously needs help. Did this parent threaten to call the cops on me (for what, I'm not sure)? Yes, yes she did. That's the kind of shit we deal with on a daily basis.
We deal with it because it's worth it. I love these little guys. I love the little ones that pretend they're werewolves and howl around the club. I respect the older siblings who take it on themselves to include their little brothers and sisters even though it slows them down. I admire the ones who have anger issues but do their best to control it and take a step back when they need to. The teens are sarcastic and pretend they're uninterested while the little ones go through the daily dramas of winning games and losing best friends (only to gain them back within the hour). I've held a girl trying to deal with her parent's divorce and had a meaningful conversation with a boy who thought hitting a kid was the right way to handle a bad situation. I don't think I could ever work with elementary aged kids full time because they are truly ridiculous, but right now they're perfect and funny and wild. It's great looking at the parents who care so deeply about their children and it means something to be there for the kids who don't have that kind of love and commitment at home.
So even though this is the hardest job I've ever worked, it's also the best experience I could ask for. Also I get paid to go to Wild Island and Lake Tahoe, so that's pretty awesome too.
End of sappy post.