Anyone who works with children has an incredibly challenging job. Depending on the age and the mentality a child may or may not be able to tell you the truth. Sometimes they can’t articulate what really is going on and you have to watch by their actions or listen to what they are (or aren’t) talking about. And this is for children who do not have a specific individual education plan or that don’t have special medical or emotional needs.
Add in those needs. Your life as a teacher, as a caregiver is tougher. And sometimes you don’t sign up for that. A teacher’s dream is most likely to have all the Jane Does and John Smiths that love to sit nicely in class and do their homework on time. Has anyone actually seen that in a classroom setting? As a teacher, a caregiver, I ask you this: “Why are you there?”
Do you truly love children? I hope so. I hope you look forward to greeting them every day. I hope you look forward to discussions on dinosaurs, Twinkies, favorite colors. I hope you look forward to their smile when they see you. Do your children smile when they see you? Chances are you are that person.
Or are you there to get a paycheck? Are you there to do what you need to do until school is over? Do you sigh when you see a child with challenges and “know” what is going on with them without meeting them or looking or listening to them? May I suggest you find something else at this point.
Children are fragile. Every single one of them. You don’t know if they are actually sick or just don’t want to be there. If they don’t seem happy do you know why? By not smiling at them or by greeting a child you can damage a child’s self-esteem. They can wonder what they did wrong. Why did you smile at Billy but not me?
And I’ve seen both. And I’m human. I’ve done both. I’ve had to vent too when a child is driving me absolutely crazy. There’s nothing wrong with that. As long the children aren’t aware of it.
But there are so many teachers and caregivers out there that go out of their way. I’ve seen them genuinely smile at their students. I’ve seen them notice a child is wearing a Lego shirt and have a five minute conversation about building Legos. You see, this is such a simple thing. But it means so much to them.
My children have had some amazing teachers and aides. They know who they are. Because they’re still in our life one way or another. Because I couldn’t forget what they did for my children’s self-esteem. They truly cared. And whether it was hand signals to signal a blood sugar low, or dancing crazily to music, I thank you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you are one of those teachers that go out of their way I pray my children get you as their teacher. Because I know that they will be treated as themselves. Not as that diabetic kid, not as that girl that wears a back brace that can’t talk, but as who they are. The boy that enjoys math and reading, playing Minecraft, building incredible creations with Legos who just happens to wear an insulin pump as well. The girl that can pick up any rhythm of music and dance ferociously to it, who created a language just for her stuffed bear, and loves to mimic gymnastics poses who just happens to have Down Syndrome and Scoliosis. Or the girl who can look at books for hours pointing out the words she knows, chases the dog and cat because she loves them so much, who manages to walk in everybody’s shoes because she loves to put them on.
Thank you to those people who can treat them as the amazing children they are.