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LJ Idol: Exhibit A: Week 1

I detest toddlers.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them. I just dislike the dirty diapers and the screaming and the inability to vocalize their feelings. Which ... admittedly, sounds like pretty much the majority of what being a toddler consists of.

So when my potential employer at a local preschool bridges her fingers and peers at me and says, "We're looking for an assistant for the Fours, and for the Toddlers, do you have a preference?" I have to bite back a laugh - all of my preschool experience lies in after-school programs. Anyone not potty trained is a lost cause to me.

"I'd do much better with the Fours!" I say, smiling brightly.

Two weeks later, I find myself sitting on the floor of the Toddler classroom with their heavily pregnant lead teacher standing across the room, corralling everyone into their Winter coats and toward the door so we can go outside. They look like little Stay Puft marshmallow men, waddling around in exaggeratedly puffy coats considering the mild Georgia winter weather we've been having. Eleven kids, and so they put me in here. And I let them? Am I insane?

I soon wind up in charge of the low end of the ratio: it's just me, and six toddlers. I walk into the room at eight in the morning, am greeted by a couple of gummy smiles, and then turn my back for about 30 seconds to put my purse down. When I turn back around, what seems like the entire room is in shambles: books everywhere, blocks littering the floor, and one particular blonde ankle biter throwing a small, plastic chicken around and brightly shrieking "Ba'!" What is he saying!? What. The hell. Am I doing here?

I come to find out later that their lead teacher doesn't do much art or activities with them - not that you can do a whole lot with eleven toddlers that's anything remotely close to being organized, but she doesn't do much. I test the waters a bit: I cut open a trash bag, tape it to a table, get everyone to paint some tools I've cut out of paper to go with the month's theme. They seem to really like that. Maybe ...

I'm the assistant Toddler teacher at my preschool. If you'd told me this even three months ago, I would have laughed in your face. (not trying to be rude, but honestly, toddlers?) I can change eleven diapers in 15 minutes and get everyone's coats on in 10. Some days, I want to pull my hair out and throw a temper-tantrum of my own, but more often than not I find the mix of "almost-2 independence" and "snuggly baby sweetness" charming, and nobody's ever going to accidentally pee in their pants on my watch.

Today, I stood with them on the playground. My blonde friend comes up to me, clutching a big red rubber ball, delight apparent on his face. "Ba'!" he trills, chucking it as best he can across the playground and giggling with delight as he runs off after it. I give chase, waggling my arms exaggeratedly.


Maybe I am sane, after all.
  • Current Mood: grateful grateful
ha! I enjoyed this... I think because I have a feeling towards toddlers very similar to your opening statement
Having a child who was once a toddler and having worked in a daycare I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. :D
haha, oh man. I can barely manage my one toddler. I don't know how people in your position do it! Cool how things changed around though.
Ahhhh, toddlers. My son's three now but 2 was actually a fun age for us. Three?

Well, they don't call 'em threenagers for nothin', y'know.
I was giggling and smiling through this whole thing. :) My mom used to run an in-home daycare, so there were toddlers running around all the time. Even as a toddler myself, I didn't enjoy being around other toddlers. I didn't mind the ones in our house, but you'd never get me to eat lunch with them (too icky). My mom, though, she was like a damn toddler miracle worker.
I'm glad you're discovering ways to work the situation well, but your job is like my worst nightmare XD
I never thought that I was much of a toddler person, but now that I've got one of my own... my perspective has shifted a bit. I don't know that I could handle a whole classroom of them--but I love when you can see them sponging up the world around them.
I really liked this! Me and kids are not a good mix, yet kids always flock to me. Some things are a mystery!
I teach three year old preschool, and have helped out with the two year old room. It definitely takes a special kind of person. I love it.
I'm glad you've discovered the sweetness of toddlers, and are providing them with much more quality fun and care than they were getting before!

All of those ages have their charms, I think, and I really loved the toddler years (though our kids were really verbal, which helps). That cluelessness, the Frankenbaby walk, all of it.

And clearly the preschool recognizes what a great job you're doing!
This made me think of the Caterpillar Room in Toy Story 3. Except it sounds like you're doing well by your caterpillars, unlike Sunnyside ;)