(photo taken: March 9, 2015)
Not too long ago Milton called me from his job with the kids. Apparently they wanted to find out if I was as mean as he is! For some reason I felt awkward. Then Milton asked me something that made me think about the entire night. "What do you like about kids? Why do you like working with them?" At the moment I couldn't think of anything. Not even a joke. That question hit me hard and my mind went blank. Well the phone call ended and I said bye to the kids, but my mind was stuck on the question. Why do I like working with kids so much? What is it about them that I enjoy?
Here's a small background. My mum and grandma always babysat the neighbors' kids. So even though I am the youngest in the family, there were always little kids around the house. Back then I wasn't too into them. I mean I did like playing with them and stuff, but I was a kid! I didn't have a passion other than eating and fooling around! (Not much has changed) Once I was 12 I got my first job working at a daycare center. You guys from Hope know what I'm talking about. That's when I started to realize I enjoy working with kids!
There were kids from babies to preschoolers. I was able to work in different classrooms and I enjoyed it! Of course with babies there wasn't much to do since all they did was sleep and eat. The first time I fed one of the babies I was freaking out thinking that I was gonna drop him! So I sat down and did it, felt quite nice. Then I'd play with the 2-3 year old. They're so dumb but adorable! Dumb not in a bad way. I mean it in the way that they laugh and find everything hilarious! So it was pretty entertaining! With preschoolers there was more. From playing, reading to them, helping them out with "classwork", etc. Although it was just a few months, I think that's where it all started.
My mum stopped babysitting and I stopped working, there weren't any kids around. So the next time I was surrounded by kids was freshman year and two years ago. I volunteered at my elementary school and my gosh, that was life changing! I always thought I'd grow up to be a psychologist, but I have too much anxiety to go through that. It wasn't until I was volunteering that I realized what I really wanted to become.
...I think I explained too much of my "background". Now I'll explain what it is that I love and enjoy. As of late I was working with kindergartners. I decided to do this so I can be doing something useful. I'm not joking when I say this cliche statement: whenever I was having a bad day or was in a bad mood, these kids had something to cheer me up! It can be their actions such as being so happy to see you walk into the classroom. It can be running to hug you after you missed a few days. It can be them coloring or "drawing" during recess and giving their masterpieces to you. It can be something silly like when Carlos said, "I want to grow so I can go on a date". It can be them peeing on themselves. It can be just a simple smile because they did something right or knew the answer to something. When we'd play games, yes they'd get loud and want to cheat, but they knew right from wrong and cheered on their teams like their lives depended on it! These kids are so full of joy, so much energy, and their innocence is something so beautiful!
There were so many times that they would "fight" with their friends. Because Mia took the crayons with her and wouldn't share with Jocelyn. Because Carlos didn't invite Eric to play during lunch. They will complain and sometimes even cry about what happened. But no more than 5 minutes later you'll see them playing and laughing together as if nothing happened. Are you kidding me? Why can't we learn from them? The world would be so different!
I'm those type of people that you might get weirded out because I'm looking at you. Don't worry, I'm not creeping. I like to observe people, their actions, their behavior. It was so captivating watching them learn. Making them sound out words so they can spell them out on their own. Watching their tiny eyes squint and move their mouth around or point with their pencils, this is a kindergartner thinking at its finest. Watching them hurry to finish their work before the bell rings. Watching their faces light up when the teacher would reward them with a snack or say it's "party time". So adorable how at that age jumping around is considered dancing. Don't get me started with field trips! The concentrated looks on their faces as they are being told facts about animals. The happiness when they were able to participate in something. This kids aren't afraid. I think I was the most confident at their age than I am now!
The holidays! I got to see them for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, leaving was so tough! They're so excited talking about their costumes and how their parents will be coming to the Halloween parade. For Thanksgiving telling their friends "thank you for being my friend", and thanking us for being their teachers. Christmas, oh lord! They kept jumping with joy because they promise they've been good all year so Santa can bring them lots and lots of presents. Poor Santa in this economy! Valentine's day was so amazing! No one gets left out, we're all in this together! Everyone brings a card and candy for all the classmates. I came in with cupcakes and treats, I left with so many coloring pages and "drawings" and bags of candies. Trust me, it's not all about the presents. This is the most genuine and honest thing I can say, I didn't care about the candy or cards. The action, the fact that they took some time and thought about Ms.Zulema getting a card or candy. And the way they give you the gram with so much love and those hugs that last 20 seconds, squishing you. I remember coming back after break and they all came running to hug me! This would happen pretty much every Monday actually. I felt bad because it took time away from the teacher so I asked them to save the hugs for later, but it's such a great feeling!
Then came the day I had to leave, ugh. I got hired at Subway and that meant I wouldn't be able to stay. I told Mr.Rogers until the last minute right before I was leaving. He got upset saying I shouldn't leave and stay, but that it was great news since I was struggling to find a job. Once he told the class their faces dropped. And I'm not saying it because I'm the BEST teacher in the whole world and that's why they were upset. I did the best I could to be a great teacher and I earned their love and got to experience each day of their kindergarten life. They were saying "no, why, we're going to miss you, don't leave" etc. I fought sooo many tears back while I was there! I led them to lunch one last time before I left. They all attacked me with hugs. That killed me inside and I wanted to break down and cry! I was there for about 5 months and it was such a rewarding experience! Once I left and met up with Milton outside the school I started crying. Yes I'm a wimp, but those months and the time I spent there was so amazing! I left in early April and came back in June right before they'd leave for summer vacation. It was only 2 months and I felt there was so many things I missed out on! Melissa's long straight hair was cut to Dora length. My child Carlos lost his tooth. Mia's hair had grown so beautifully. Angel which struggled a lot during school, was able to perform the same as everyone else. So many changes in such a short time. I felt a little sad but so proud of these munchkins. My kindergartners were becoming 1st graders!!! It may seem like small things to others, but you have no idea how much of a huge impact it makes when it happens to you! The best reward was being called Ms.Zulema, or teacher!