need a quick self-esteem boost? hang out in an elementary school for a day
Think I’m joking? Let me tell you a bit about what I experience at my job…
To start, kids see everything. And believe it or not, they understand everything too. It may be in a different way than adults, but they understand.
And they REMEMBER.
Upon first meeting, you might be greeted with a “whoa, you’re really pretty,” and “wait, how are you not married?? You’re so pretty!” and so the first few minutes of the school day turn into life lesson time.
After that, they’ll ALWAYS comment when you change your hair, or your nail color, or wear different shoes, or get a new sweater (or wear the same one two weeks in a row – oops). But they will also always tell you how much they love having you around.
Seriously, they’ll always compliment you. It might be 30 seconds after they threw a pair of scissors at you, but they’ll do it. How many of your adult friends do that??
(hopefully none of them throw things at you. if they do, please find new friends).
When you’re absent for just a day and you come back to swarms of “where were you?” “why didn’t I see you” and “I missed you!” And when they see you leaving for the day they holler from across the room “bye! I love you!”
From time to time, they’ll call you ‘mom’ or ‘dad,’ and get embarrassed when they realize their mistake. Just last week I had a first grade girl call me ‘mom’ by accident, and when she noticed, she just said “well I love you like I love my mom, so same thing, right? anyway can you help me read this word?”
Sometimes they’ll just tell you they want you to be their mom instead of who they have now. Then you need to discuss how they love their mom and just wish for you to be in their lives, which you MUST promise you will be ‘forever and ever’ before turning back to the task at hand.
Or when you get to work with your hair up and no makeup because you just couldn’t get out of bed in time that morning, and a student says to you “how do you look so gorgeous today?” and you cant help but smile.
Because they aren’t just your normal friends being polite, they genuine believe it.
Maybe there’s that preschooler who ALWAYS asks to see what color your coffee is (because that one time you brought in matcha tea and it was green, her face was absolutely priceless). And eventually they notice when you come in lacking said coffee cup, and ask if you need to go run out and get one before we start class because they know how much you love it (and how it keeps you ‘happy’). So the sarcastic first grader offers to watch your class this morning while you run to the coffee shop – as if you’d let him be in charge for but a second.
When they use their free time to write you a book (with only pictures, of course) but their face lights up with pride when you smile and ‘read’ it with them.
Do your adult friends write/draw you personalized picture books for fun? No? Hmm.
Or when you finally change out of that sweater and wear colorful clothing, your whole day is filled with 2nd graders saying “I like your pants, I like your shoes.” They, naturally, start mimicking each other so you end up with 15 kids spending 3 whole minutes of class just telling you how much they like your outfit.
When they see you in the morning and their tiny little legs wind up and start running over to you, huge smile across their face, and you brace for them to ram into you in an attempt at a big hug.
How many of your adult friends give you running start hugs so you can embrace and lift them off the ground, all while giggling like it’s the best thing that’s happened to them all week?
With my job, some days I have to be a caring mom.
Some days, I have to be the strict mom.
Some days, I have to be the typical teacher and make them actually learn a thing or two.
Some days, I have trouble getting out of bed so early in the morning, to wear one of these hats for 25+ children, that aren’t even my own.
But by week 2, they feel like my own, and they make me want to get up every day.
They have their tantrums, and defiant moments.
They have their sick days and sneeze on your face.
But they never fail to do some small thing, a small act of kindness, a small sentence or the tiniest hint of showing you how much they love you.
You – their surrogate parent.
You – their caretaker for almost 10 months of the year.
You – the one they come to and listen to and love with their little hearts, because they know you love them right back.
You – who knew you wouldn’t be able to get through they day without at least one of them making you crack a smile.
Because as much as we love our adult friendships, working with children gives you the most adorable, no-strings attached hype team for life.
And I think we could all stand to learn a bit about this kindness and love from the tiny humans.