I love teaching pre-schoolers. I absolutely love it. I love when a parent comes in Monday morning and tells me her child wouldn't take her mouse ears headband off all weekend-- including bedtime. I love when I overhear a child reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" all on his own (or his own rendition of it!). I love when I look over and see a group of girls (AND boys!) rearranging the book center to make it into a classroom-- and then seeing their re-enactments of Ms. Kame teaching circle time (alllllways pretty entertaining!).
There are so many awesome parts of working with children. But then there are some not so great parts.
Last month we had a suspected case of child neglect and spent an entire day going back and forth between the school and Target trying to find clothes to fit one of our little girls who is severely overweight and was wearing clothes 6 sizes too small. This same child contracted a UTI because her clothing and underwear were so extremely tight. Yet she begged to come to school because she did not want to be at home with her mom. The final straw was when I found her holding herself in pain and crying silently during naptime. (But I will say that seeing this child come to school the last couple weeks wearing her girly clothes with a HUGE smile on her face has been priceless. For the first time, seeing a Hannah Montana shirt didn't make me cringe, simply because this little girl was finally able to look and act just like the other girls.)
Two days ago a little girl shared some horribly disturbing information with Shirley and me. Information you hope you never have to hear come out of the mouth of a 5 year old. Words a 5 year old shouldn't even understand. I will never forget the look on her face when she poured out every last detail of what she recently experienced. Having to file a report for an investigation is something I knew could happen, but it's not something I actually expected from my job. (Thankfully my directors and a team of pastors stepped in, so I didnt actually have to file the report myself.) I've been praying for this little girl all weekend. I'm worried that her parents don't believe her. When I came home on Friday evening to see an Amber alert of the television, my heart dropped. It wasn't my little girl, but the look on her mom and dad's face and the details of the accusation terrified me when I saw that a child was missing.
I hate seeing some of my kids open their lunch boxes at lunch time and have nothing to drink inside. It usually happens on the last Friday of the month.
I just wish I could take these kids home with me, doctor them up, spoil them (a little bit!) and let them be kiddos. I hate that they know the difference between the haves and the have nots. I hate that they get ignored at home and come to school with their chins down and no sense of personal identity because it's not cultivated at home. I hate that some of these children have seen things I as an adult have never had to see-- and probably never will.
But I love that while these children are with me in my classroom, I can give them a healthy, structured, safe, and loving second home. And leaving that is going to be very difficult.