Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I Love Kids
My posts are way too often tinged with negativity and semi-whininess. So I thought it's about time I post another celebration.
So today at work, I was really bored. I mean, really bored. And that's not something that happens so often when you're a middle school teacher. Some years - it never happens at all.
The reason was that the kids were doing testing (their final round of standardized math testing), so all I got to do today was sit around and watch them test. No teaching. Not a lot of interaction. So little going on, I ended up completing about a million kid word searches that I had on hand (for the kids, of course).
Of course, testing isn't always boring. But my kids have a good thing going these days, and that's their pride. They honestly believe that they can do these tests, they take them seriously, and so they are willing to focus for them. That's not something that happened my first years at the helm, but I've got it going, now.
And it's kind of a problem. Because, when they're totally focused like that - I don't know what to do with myself. I just watch the clock and look forward to "later" coming. Because I didn't choose to teach to sit around and watch kids work silently. Not me.
I chose to teach because I love interacting with kids. I mean - f-ing love it.
And I was thinking about that today (because I had a lot of time to think). Why is it that I love being around kids so much? Especially these middle school kids who so many other folks can't handle?
I thought it through: well, there's their energy. They bring so much energy, I can't help but get a little bit infected by it. They also like to play around - and in such a better way than most adults do - so I get a big kick out of that. In fact, I have my kids calling me out from time to time because I "play too much" (sometimes, I'm actually the one who breaks their long, focused silences because I need to joke around). They're so very unpredictable and ridiculous - and I've never been one to enjoy the comforts of routine or outright predictability.
All good reasons to like hanging around kids. But not enough, really, to love them, right?
And then I got it: I love kids because they are the one sub-set of human beings with whom I can just flat-out get over myself. I don't take anything personally with them. They can insult me or try to be "mean," and I just find it amusing. They can do the most irritating things in the world, and I crack up because it's so ridiculous. They say something ignorant about race, and I just shrug it off and use it as an opportunity to do some real teaching. I don't get all caught up in my own world with them. I can just accept them for who they are - and love them for it. I can forgive them for their actions - because they're just kids, and they're learning how to be people in the world.
And that's not how it is with adults (as hard as I try to react that way). I can't forgive adults so easily. Whereas I don't trust adults to just tell me the mildly painful truths instead of trying to sugarcoat things - kids will just say it. They don't make things more painful by throwing white lies around. They're devastatingly honest (at times), and I love them for that, as well.
And just as I am able to forget myself and just be with kids, I can also get over their self-centered natures. Because they are kids - and kids should be the center of their own worlds. A kid shouldn't care about what's going on in my real world. A kid doesn't need to ask sincere questions - because I should be doing all that with them.
Adults? Yeah, right. Human adults are the most disappointing creatures. So few are any different than those kids in their self-centeredness, in spite of their supposed "maturity." And since they are adults - they just disappoint.
Kids are supposed to be ignorant - they really don't know any better, and so they give me hope. Because they can learn, and change, and improve in how they are in the world. Adults? Too caught up in their own pasts and fears and insecurities to make the right decisions or really change.
And I wish I was perfect enough to feel otherwise. I wish I could just love all these grown-up kids without judgment like I do with the younger versions - but I can't. Sometimes, I can do a pretty good job of it. But too often I'm unable to pull myself out of the picture and just let things be. To not get caught up in my own world and wholeheartedly explore and enjoy theirs. I just end up disappointed too often.
But with the kids? Never. They never disappoint me - and all too often they make me proud. They constantly surprise me and make me laugh harder than I thought possible. They bring out my very best, consistently. When I'm not in the best mood, they snap me out of it quick. When I'm in the best mood, they come join me. Just watching kids do random little things - like talk to themselves, or laugh at something that isn't funny at all, or get all excited about a gift or new toy - just gives me the biggest grin. What can I say?
It's the kids.
I'm about to take some time off from teaching, but there's no way in Hell it's going to last too long. Make my trip - learn and see what I need to learn and see. Then get my ass back with the kids the next moment. That's the only guarantee I have for my future. And that's - honestly - all that really matters, in the long run.
So I dedicate my upcoming trip and all the things I do to the kids. Because.
I just love kids.