I have spent a few weeks as a substitute teacher in a partial care classroom for toddlers. All I have to say is: 25 third graders are amazingly easier than seven toddlers age 4 and under. But I have enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping all of them fed, hydrated, dry, and happy all while keeping the place clean, organized, and stocked. I even found that I was kind of good at it.
Here are a few random bits of information from my experiences these last few weeks:
1. I may have come home from work anxious to show Andrew my artwork, but working with little ones is not getting paid to play.
Unless you think play means mediating constant quarrels, wiping behinds, dealing with spoiled, whiny three-year-olds, ruining your clothes, and trying to get resistant nap takers to shut up and lay down already!
2. Always, always have young children use the bathroom before outside playtime, naps, or errands. Otherwise, there WILL be accidents.
3. All toddlers spend about ten minutes singing at the top of their lungs while sitting on the potty. You have to plan for it when making a schedule.
4. Toddlers are amazingly more capable than I ever thought. My two-year-old can set the table, clear his place, clean up his toys, put puzzles together, and pretend to read books aloud to himself for almost an hour.
5. I am acquainted with a four-year-old who knows every single word of The Eye of the Tiger.
6. Things get incredibly easier when there is more than one child at a time. They play with each other. This provides me the freedom to wipe tables, take out trashes, change diapers, sweep floors, and prepare meals. Whenever I had one at a time, they were completely reliant on me for entertainment.
7. Any child in the world will inevitably ask me why I have so much fur on my arms.
8. My favorite time of day is right after naps when they are all sweet, snuggly, and sleepy eyed. Nothing warms the heart like cuddly toddler.
9. A favorite four-year-old quote after sliding into a mini inflatable pool: "WHooeee! The water is freaking cold in that bath tub!"
10. If you blow bubbles for too long as an adult, it can put you in danger of passing out.
11. If you don't make a big deal about a toddler falling down or bonking his head...either will he. Just smile and say WOW! and they will follow suit. If you look concerned they will cry.
12. Prepare for your clothes to get unbelievably dirty if caring for a group of toddlers. Don't even try to stay clean....it's physically impossible.
13. Kind firmness works leaps and bounds better than anger with a disobedient two-year-old.
14. There is no use getting upset over spills and messes. It will only happen again in the very near future.
15. Strangely, I would still like to have a large handful of kids of my own to herd around one day.