Monday, August 1, 2011

Warning: We have a man down. I repeat: we have a man down.

In January, after a year of working as a substitute Teacher Assistant for V.E., I accepted a position as a Teacher Aide for Kindergarten.  The pay is sadly lacking to try and live on, but it's a good step up into the school system.  This is the first thing I jotted down:
Day Two at my new position as a teacher's aide for kindergartners.
I don't feel tired while I'm here, but both days, I come home and sleep for an hour.

Let's see what happens.


Kindergarten isn't a class, it's a war zone.
Within the first two hours, I am escorting one child to the clinic, holding a trash-can before him in case he vomits, and returning to find one little girl has to go home because she has lice.  The actual conversation went something like this:

“Why are you standing in the hallway?”
-“I don't want to go home.”
“Oh, did you get in trouble?  Were you at the office?”
“Oh, you said you WANT to go home?”
-“No.  I don't want to go home.”
“Why do you have to go home?  Wait, where did you just come from?”
-“The clinic.”
“Ohhhhhhh” [Doesn't appear sick.  Doesn't want to go home.  Came from the clinic.  Note: Do NOT touch her head.  Ground Control, we have lice].

It's probably only a matter of time before I get lice.  I grab and/or shake kids' heads all the time (um, not sure that came out right).  Their heads are just right there, at hand level.  And the kids are so dang cute.  Sigh.  Better break that habit.  Actually, this particular action has already given me pause.  I told some of my old church youth kids that I would visit them at Young Life.  I showed up at Club, see my now-high-school kids way in the corner, and start wading through a multitude of unknown high schoolers sitting cross-legged on the floor.  Half-way through this sea, I realize to my mortified horror that I had been 'laying hands' on random stranger's heads as I walked by.  Maybe if this had been a Pentecostal youth group I could have snuck past as a simple, spirit-filled stranger.  Random Young Life students, I apologize for grabbing and shaking your heads without at least a "May God be with you."  I even find myself out in public greeting a friend by wagging a finger, or giving a "self-hug".  Kindergarten teachers aren't crazy, we're just conditioned.


During recess, a student runs up to me while holding onto another student.  The little guy (a first grader, I believe) was bleeding incessantly from the mouth and screaming something horrible.
I immediately escorted him to the clinic.  Blood was pouring out of his mouth, and he at first tried stemming the flood with his hands.  Then he dropped his hands to hold on to my pants (yay), and thus began leaking all over the floor. I asked him if he could continue to hold his mouth, which was answered with a blood-chilling howl, and more blood.  'I guess not.'  I kept having to downplay the situation to every other student I passed.  "It's okay. It's just a mouth bleed.  You can lose six pints of this before dying from blood loss."
It turns out he broke both his front teeth (which were adult teeth).  He and someone else had run smack into each other, face first.  Well, technically, face and head first.  The other student was discovered with a big teeth-shaped gash on his head.  He did not seem the least perturbed.  The first student ended up having his teeth wired in hopes that they would heal (something I did not even know was possible), and was not allowed to play at recess while they healed.  He really was just playing, but he's always been too rough outside (Note: three years later, I would catch him running in the hallway at dismissal, ignoring shouts to stop, only to collide - face forward- with a walking student.  Guess who again escorted the teeth-bleeding student to the clinic?).
Anyway, not five minutes after I had brought him to the clinic, another student came in, also with a bleeding mouth, for doing the exact same thing (although it was less serious with him).  As I leave, a third child comes in, and promptly begins vomiting.  It was a very wet day at the clinic that day, and made me quite thankful that I am not a nurse.


Oh, and kindergartners scoff at the power of the double knot.  Do what you will.  It doesn’t matter.  You'll be retying it in less than an hour.


"Wheeeeeeee - where is it, where is it, where - oommph. There it is." 
::I sit down in a kindergarten chair::
There's just something odd about walking into a room and seeing a bunch of grown-ups sitting in little midget chairs around a midget table. ::no offense meant to any shorter than average individual who chances upon this journal::

I received two stickers, today.  I guess I done good.

Also, I think this may be the first time in many a decade that I’m storing up a surplus of those “necessary hugs a day' thingies. Usually at inappropriate times. "You need to be in your seat!  Um, okay.  Thanks for the hug.  Now go back to your seat." And then there's the random walk-by hug.

One thing that exasperated me when I was a substitute, but now also amuses me, is the fact that some of these guys simply haven't mastered the art of walking, yet.  Their stumpy little legs and feet get confused, or they get excited, and Plop!  Down they go.  Usually managing to drag at least one to three other students down with them.

You know, I've been washing my hands at every opportunity, but there's only so much you can do.  Especially when, while bending down to find out why one of your kids is doubled over on the floor, another one approaches you to ask you how to sound something out, and sneezes directly in your face.  I actually felt the droplets enter my eye, plant a flag, and declare a new colony.  I’m pretty certain that if I survive kindergarten, I’m going to be immune.  To everything.  

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