With some reluctance and trepidation, the girls and I set off for daycare early in the morning. I began work by assisting the teacher in the 4-year old class. I sat on the floor so I could get to know the children. An adult is much more approachable to a child when we are low to the ground. Our lap is free and our eyes are level with theirs. What a great age! Four-year-olds are personable and wise, opinionated, yet so excited about new ideas, and still young enough to cuddle.
Arielle's one wish was that she would make a friend. What chance did she have for that at a daycare? But it turned out the director's granddaughter had been helping out there all summer and Mackenzie and Arielle became immediate friends. The two girls were constantly together and actually relieved the teachers in the 1-year old class helping to care for the babies. Arielle was immediately comfortable in her new environment. Liana, however, is a stay-at-home-girl and never did enjoy this adventure too much.
What I learned at preschool...
Lesson #1: I learned great respect for childcare workers. The work is demanding physically and mentally. These women were infinitely patient, kind, and loving to even the most exasperating child. The day-in, day-out routine of playing, feeding, toileting, getting to sleep, drying tears, and refereeing squabbles was tedious and exhausting to me and I don't know how the teachers do this full-time. These women are to be praised and honored. It is a godly profession.
Lesson #2: My daughter Arielle will one day be a great mother. She was so nurturing and loving to the babies. At the end of each day she spoke of each child with such pride in her voice, telling of little Mikey's accomplishments or how cute Michelle was. I saw her out in the hall one day with a tiny guy at her feet, arms raised, crying for Arielle to pick him up. Arielle says he cries and wants her to hold him whenever he sees her. She fed babies and entertained babies and loved every minute.
Lesson #3: For the most part, little children love each other! The ones who fought were the ones who at other times were best friends. If a child was hurt, others were sympathetic. They were very affectionate to each other most all the time, sharing kisses and hugs. Also, children notice color, but they do not care about it. They stroked the red-haired boy's loopy curls and admired the dark-skinned girl's elaborate braids. Liana's long black hair invited lots of touching too. The children were surprised to find out that I was Liana's mom, but then accepted the fact without question.
Lesson #4: Daycare is good and bad. A good program with good teachers, such as this school, was amazingly peaceful and the days are pleasant for most of the children. It is not a bad place for kids to be. The children are safe and given fun things to do. On the down side, much of the teacher's work is keeping kids civilized and preventing them from getting hurt. The children bring their issues from the home environment and nothing that goes on in school can change that situation. The teacher can only hope to provide a reprieve.
Lesson #5: I am more grateful than ever to my husband who has always worked hard so I don't have to work outside the home. The routine of getting up and out early every morning was exhausting. Then when I came home I had mountains of work waiting for me, along with cranky, tired kids. All you working moms, I give you so much credit and admiration.
Lesson #6: In whatever situation we are in, God calls us to love and serve. The service is easy when the love is there. And I grew to love each one of these precious children. It was very hard to say good-bye. On our last day, I was left with a picture of my beautiful Chinese daughter on the playground trying to bring her charges back into the building. She was holding the hand of an Indian toddler with her left hand, and an African-American child was on her right hand. Both of the babies were new walkers and kept stumbling. Arielle held tightly to them and did not let them fall. She spoke to them gently, encouraging them to keep walking along in the direction they needed to go. Isn't this what we all are called to do?
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.