Although hugely rewarding, teaching is easily the most mentally draining thing I’ve ever done. I worked for five years in accounting for a large corporation, creating huge budgeting spreadsheets and working under time constraints. It was nothing compared to an elementary school. There’s no doubt teachers need and deserve time away from it. Other professions have no idea of the demands on your time and patience. Bathroom breaks—forget about it. A quiet moment—not likely. Imagine being in a room with twenty five-year-olds for six hours. Can’t see it? Here are some snippets:
During a time drawing pictures of their home and families one child said, “When my sister is one, my mommy says we get to share a room.”
Expecting the child was eagerly anticipating this day, I said, “That will be fun.”
She answered, “I told Mommy she could sleep in the closet.”
When told they had to be very good to get to do a fun activity that afternoon, one boy raised his hand. “I’ll be quiet as a mime,” he informed us.
We had some tornados come through Indiana this spring. A smiling small boy told me his uncle got blown down by a tornado. After telling me the uncle wasn’t hurt, he then shared that he had many uncles and wouldn’t mind if the tornado got this one.
Ever heard a child with a speech impairment pronounce the word fox? The result rhymes with ducks. And how do five-year-olds know that’s a bad word?
Small children have no shame. I’ve seen it again and again. Nothing is off limits. In one recess/lunch period, a student managed to become a triple threat. He wiped a booger on a girl at lunch, licked some boys on the slide, then kissed a friend in the line to reenter the building. Personal space anyone?
Hardly a week goes by without its share of bathroom accidents, ouchies, or vomiting. Under a national emergency, the government should call in teachers instead of the National Guard. They’ll be the ones calmly standing and giving directions while everyone else panics.