Learning to Dance in the Rain

Today, we took the summer campers (grade school kids) to a park about an hour away for the day. I was pretty excited- I’ve never been to this park, and I also just enjoy doing things like this with my kids. We were looking forward to a train ride, a roller coaster, and a splash pad, among other things.

After the long drive, made longer by a wrong turn, we arrived to the park, wild with excitement, to find… rain.

Rain, rain, rain.

After eating lunch, the kids got to take a ride on the train, during which time the rain began to POUR. Of course, the roller coaster and splash pad were not going to be opened in this condition. The kids were highly upset, and finally began begging- SCREAMING begging- to be allowed to play in the rain? After a brief consideration, and a look at the skies (no thunder or lightning to be found), we let the kids get into their bathing suits and run wild.

Being the emotional twit that I am, I found myself fighting back tears as I watched my kids running around shrieking in the rain. It’s on days like these that I really realize why I am doing what I’m doing. I thought that today, being Wild Wednesday, I would give you a brief list of reasons explaining my love for working with kids.

1. Kids make you feel like a movie star. Every morning when I walk into work, I feel like Madonna. At least seven kids hurl themselves at my legs screaming “MISS ABBY!!!!!” and begging for hugs. When I walk into a different classroom, to ask a question or look for something, the same thing happens. Who wouldn’t love to be greeted with such enthusiasm?

2. I don’t have to pretend to be something that I’m not. The best thing about my kids is that they love me exactly for who I am. I don’t have to pretend to be cooler, smarter, or more interesting than I am. No matter if I show up in a dress and earrings or a faded t shirt with a bleach stain on the sleeve, my kids love me.

3. I can be silly with my kids. I spend a lot of time teaching them how to act like “big kids.” We learn how to walk in line, how to sit still in our chairs during learning time, and I don’t encourage baby talking. At the same time, though, kids love to laugh. They love to be entertained and they LOVE to be silly. And I love to teach them that no matter how old you are, it’s okay sometimes to be silly.

4. I can relive my childhood. It’s no secret that I love a lot of things thought to be childish. Disney movies? Count me in. Pajama parties? I will be there in my sleep wear! Field trips to the petting zoo? I will be the first one to pick up a rabbit to cuddle. Teaching preschool allows me to enjoy these kinds of experiences over and over again.

5. I love seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Even something as simple as going to the movies is a big deal to a kid. We went to see a movie the other day- the theater here shows family-friendly movies in the morning during the summertime, and we take our kids occasionally. Anyway, I was sitting in between two six-year-olds, and I was struck by how amazed those sweet kids were by the whole experience. That big giant screen, the lights going out, the huge boxes of popcorn and candy- it was all such a big deal to the kids. I love being able to show these kids something about the world and see their reactions to it.

Anyway, this last point was the one that struck me today. I loved playing in the rain as a kid- that feeling of just total abandonment, that it didn’t matter if you got dirty or got completely soaked, that was just the best. The kids’ faces when we finally told them to go ahead and go play- not to mention the ear-shattering shrieks of delight that followed- that was genuinely the best part of the day to me.

I spend so much time trying to explain to other people (people who don’t understand, and probably still see me as nothing more than a glorified baby sitter), and I realized today that I don’t have to explain myself. The fact is, for many reasons, I simply love my job, and I am exactly where God wants me to be.

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