When you’re between four and five years old and just learning to evaluate the enormity of formal school, the reality of live bugs and that your friend has better looking content in his lunch box than you…well then, little things become big things and big things are the size of your colouring crayons and negotiating how many minutes more you have before clean up time in the playroom. Living is easy and there’s a rich faith in the goodness of humanity – yours and theirs and it’s all just too lovely.

I adore little people with their exuberant wide eyes and suction minds. Oh those supple limbs that fold so easily…

However, the logistics of getting them learn-ed in a full time capacity is beyond me now.   My gifting lies neither in admin nor systems, ticking the boxes and certainly not fitting into them. I’m fine with doing duties – but endless meetings about who gets to stand guard around toilets and over trash cans intimidate me and I would rather eat inroads through stogey white bread with margarine and pink processed polony than sit through such times.  We wont even go to shared drives and power schools and forecasts and inspections… Oh no, we will not.

Just some of the many reasons I don’t teach full time anymore.

But…as a children addict, I have to get my fix.

Come in please, supply/substitute teaching with your win-win all the way.

I waltz into school in the morning, follow somebody else’s carefully prepared and time-intensive plan, play, chat and giggle with precious little souls and waltz out 7 hours later, leaving the other big teacher stuff to the other big teachers.   My heart is fulled, my limbs filled (mostly with fatigue) and my life ever enriched. One day at a time, while still allowing me to be caught up on the ordinary bits of my other life.

I’ve just completed a 7-week maternity-leave-cover in a PreK class. Ok, a bit more than one day and as such I got properly immersed in paint and glue, the good and the goo of family secrets, Lego, (ooo I do so love lego, its the answer to world peace), Peppa Pig, ABC through to Zee and smelly lunchboxes – I don’t know what it is, but cooped up cucumber just makes me gag! Every time!

And this is what these chipper and persistent little people taught me:

(Key; GC = girl child   BC = boy child)

1* Sitting on my lap, a tired little girl, with head resting on my motherly mammaries says :

GC: “Your boobs are so soft but they need to be higher”

I threw my head back and laughed loudly, hoping that the tightened skin under my chin would pull said boobs up to an acceptable level and that she’d actually notice the lift.

One day, sweet little-blue-eyed-blonde haired girl with three older sisters and a mother of East European descent – one day you too will have boobs and one day grown-up-blue-eyed blonde-haired-older girl you will learn the physics of gravity. Sorry for that!

Lesson: If it needs to be said, say it. Don’t worry about protocol and such things.

2* Girl child with gorgeous thick hair down to her waist:

GC: “You’re a boy”

Me: “A boy – am I? What makes you say that?”

GC: “Your hair is short. Boys have short hair. Girls have long hair. “

Lesson: Gender is really very simple. Caitlyn Jenner, all you had to do was grow your hair.

3* Boy child calling me Muss. I gave up trying to explain to 4 year olds that I’ve been married far longer than I was single and because I’ve had a wedding ring on my finger for 33 years, I detest being called Miss, never mind Muss.   But so be it…Muss it was for the full seven weeks.

BC: “Muss…. George pained me.”

Me: “Is there blood?”

BC: “No”

Me: “Are you alive?”

BC: “Yes”

Me: “Then you’ll be fine.”

BC: “Ok”

Runs off.

Lesson learnt: Get it off your chest and then get on with the next best thing.

4* Apparently Mrs. Buck and Mrs. Butt sound much the same.

Lesson: General is good enough. Don’t worry about specifics, they are obsolete.

5* Little boy on playground running around madly but stopping to deeply scratch his butt every few steps

Me: (Catching up to him mid scratch): “Do you need the toilet?”

BC: “No.”

Me: “I think you need the toilet…”

BC: “No. Will you scratch my bottom for me?”

Me: “Uhummm ….NO!”

Lesson: Ask for what you want confidently. Don’t beat around the bush or the butt.

6* Girl child on lap where many seemed to congregate on a regular basis! (Come on, they are only little.)

GC: You smell like my granny

Me, thinking: Right now, I’m pretty sure I exude a rich body odour as I earlier forfeited underarm hygiene for time after an extremely sweat-smelly kettle belle session and a two second shower. Mmmm…

None the less, no words needed and I drew her in, giving an extra hearty hug – in my portfolio grannies are great and I can’t wait to be one myself.

Lesson: Compliments and love come in many guises – take all you can get when you can get it.

7*   While doing colour patterns with coupling camel manipulatives, a little hand gently feels my face.

GC: “Why does your skin feel like……. feel like…… feel like …jelly?”.

Me: Hahaaa and thinks: good thing my tummy is tucked under the table.

Lesson: Don’t go too deep, some things just need to be taken at face value.

8*   Overheard often: I’ll tell my mommy ….

Mommies have supreme authority – always and even above a teacher especially when needing to act on instruction that they don’t like, the chirp went something like this: “My mommy says I can’t do such and such…”

Me: “Oh really!”

Lesson: Mommies have supreme authority over all else. What power we wield. Use it well!

Right now even as my soul is well satisfied, I’m desperately in need of quiet peace. Go figure…if the average four year old asks more the 400 questions a day – between the giggle and the wiggle is always the why, the what, the where, the when and the who….The questions just keep coming, the answers not so much.

Not only has the past seven weeks deeply enriched my life in so many ways, but the tanglible rewards are welcome too. I now get to buy a brand new bike.

Yehaa! One that will hold me tenderly on my bucket-list-adventure across Africa in a few years. From Cairo to Cape Town as I ride the 12 000 kilometres home, I’ll be sure to remember these delightful little people and when my butt needs a scratch and a deep massage, I’ll know to ask for what I want most confidently.

Lesson: Work hard at playing hard (with little people that’s easy), take the money with gratitude and go buy a bike.  

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