Sunday, May 27, 2012

How Many Preschoolers Fit in a Box?

This morning I tackled a task that I have been dreading for the last few months. Due to summer activities and one of the regular workers asking to take the summer off, my church has been a little short-handed on preschool workers. Last April, when I was approached to help, I adamantly declined. I have no desire to work with small children even when I am getting paid for it. You can read here (Teacher Troubles) about the time I was stuck with 24 of them for an entire day. Despite my protests, they didn't back down and I reluctantly agreed to take one day. Today was that day.

I had forgotten about agreeing to do this until a book was set in front of me at last week's dinner. It contained the lesson plan for today. My daughter, who was to be my assistant, was told she would have to walk me through it. She has assisted with the children many times and apparently is pretty good at it. Neither of us picked up the book, each assuming that the other was going to get it. On Wednesday, when I asked Kirsten for the book, we realized what had happened. I looked all over the church and my home for that book and finally realized that I would be walking in blind with no lesson.

I have taught hundreds of times and most of the time write my own lessons, but it is generally for teenagers or adults. At those ages, the lesson are information based. With tiny little moron kids, you have to do activities to keep their minds occupied and prevent them from biting each other. Then, while you have them distracted, you try to sneak in a nugget of knowledge or two and call it a productive lesson time. I am not good at this type of teaching.

Clowns make people happy.
There were seven children, including two I had never seen before and would not speak. One of them was a boy content to dig through the bins of toys and keep himself occupied. He wouldn't acknowledge me in any way, but he seemed pretty low maintenance, so I didn't mind. The silent girl sat at the table and stared at me, but would not speak. I could almost detect her head moving when I asked her a question, but I couldn't be sure. I was just happy that no one appeared to be scared of me. The smaller children often seem to have a heightened sense of paranoia.

The kids were pretty well behaved and I spent most of my time throwing toys back in the bins so there would not be a huge clean up afterwards requiring me to take bids from contractors. My daughter was on bathroom duty and escorted them when they suddenly realized they had to go. I was grateful to have her there for that, but then she said, "Who's ready for a snack."

ME: (exasperated) Why would you say that?
KIRSTEN: Say what? 
ME: About the food?
KIRSTEN: It's time to eat.
ME: We are only in here for an hour and everyone is happy. What have you done?
KIRSTEN: Dad, we have to feed them.
ME: No, we don't. Once again, one hour.
KIRSTEN: I don't see what the problem is.
ME: You don't fix what isn't broke. This will only lead to disaster.

As we were having this debate the kids had made their way to the table and were already demanding what they wanted.

ME: See what you've done.
KIRSTEN: Just throw some food at them.

Kirsten pulls a box of graham crackers out of the closet. I objected on the grounds that we had to clean this room before we left.

ME: No. Too many crumbs.

Kirsten rolls her eyes, returns to the closet and comes back with prepackaged apple slices.

ME: No, too sticky.

Kirsten appeared frustrated. I don't know why, I was only trying to help. She doesn't always think these things through. She suggested we start with the drinks since the kids were starting to complain. She gave each kid a cup and asked me to grab the juice.

ME: Juice? That will get everywhere and once again, sticky.

Kirsten stepped around me to get the juice and knocked a box of raisins to the floor. One of the kids immediately started crying.

SHORT PERSON: (wailing) I don't like raisins.

Raisins OR bloated ticks
I picked up the box and yelled, "This box is full of bugs!" I then threw several of the raisins on the table and told the kids to kill the bugs. They just looked at me.

ME: (urgently) Kill the bugs before they crawl away and get in the other classes!

The little boy that hadn't spoke all through class ran up to the table and smacked his hand on one of the raisins and squished it.

ME: Good! Now, quick, eat the bug.

He popped it in his mouth and smiled. I threw more raisins on the table and the kids simultaneously went nuts trying to smash them all and cram them in their mouths before they crawled away. This included the kid who insisted he didn't like raisins.

We made it through snack time with no messes and never did serve the drinks, but the kids didn't notice and Kirsten did not object. We passed the rest of the time making animal noises and I scared one kid by removing my finger. She hid in the corner until I promised to put it back on and not do the trick again. I debated since she was very quiet in the corner, but the other kids had grown weary of that trick anyway.

Parents eventually started showing up to reclaim their children and due to our pre-planning, there was very little clean up. Once again, I have survived a room full of small children. However, I still have no desire to do it again.

62 comments:

  1. ...so how are smashed raisins not sticky? I'm confused.

    And did you sneak in a nugget of knowledge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They weren't juicy enough to be sticky.

      Knowledge learned:This is stuff I learned
      If ducks could moo, they would make the same sounds as Addie's dad when he is on the toilet.

      Children trapped under work tables do not need to be rescued if they are not screaming.

      Children can't lick their elbows either.

      Just because a four year old flips you off, does not mean she is mad at you.

      Delete
    2. ah...so they taught you more than you taught them. Just checking. ;-) They'll probably be begging for your return.

      Delete
  2. I'm going to keep all of that in mind when I open my daycare, since it seems you had a successful day. haha I'm glad you survived though.

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    Replies
    1. EWWWW EWWWW EWWWW! Why would you do that? Is this voluntary or are you being blackmailed?

      Delete
  3. I always cringe when you talk about little kids - but then when you really get down to the details of how you are with them you're awesome. ;-) I loved the bug smashing event! Rather brilliant of you and so nicely spontaneous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. Red and I had some encounters with children in Indianapolis today. I believe she will be writing about it tomorrow.

      Delete
  4. Pre-planning clean up before the mess has begun - best advice ever for people looking after small people.

    Taking bids from contractors becomes expensive :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pre-planning makes all the difference. People should use this practice for all areas of their lives.

      Except choosing a life path. For that, just wing it.

      Delete
  5. I know why I don't eat raisins. Whats worse than worms in your box of raisins. Half a worm. Worse yet is half a box of wormy raisins! Mom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it has been long enough, you need to get past it.

      Delete
  6. They're awful, aren't they. I volunteered at my niece's preschool a few months ago, and almost had a nervous breakdown. If they aren't attacking each other, they are peeing in their pants. They talk too much, as if they had something interesting to say.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. And very few of them have jobs. Bunch of moochers.

      Delete
  7. Kids are gross. Definitely scarier than clowns.

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  8. Haha I loved this post except for the animated gif of the clown, which was incredibly frightening. I had to resize my browser (that's what she said) in order to keep it off-screen so that I wouldn't be distracted by the terrifying gaze of the clown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      I am guessing you haven't seen that movie then.

      Delete
  9. I remember working those obligatory preschool room mom days. Horrible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have worn many different hats there, but I had always managed to avoid this one. Hopefully, that's the last time.

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  10. You lived to tell the tale, well done!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Stephen King is awesome and children are about as scary - especially when there is more than one of them. It's like they know...and create some sort of hive mind...

    I have three toddlers...I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Three toddlers at once. What were you thinking?

      If the kids are still alive when the parents come to pick them up, I count that as a good day.

      Delete
  12. I swear when I am in these situations I either start cleaning up from the moment I walk in the door so I can immediately bolt or I give up entirely and let the place be destroyed. Taking care of a multitude of small children is not my desire either. I don't know why people think that just because I birthed two of my own, that I must naturally like to care for gaggles of them.
    And I totally agree with you on the snack. Don't bring it up, it is a secret weapon.
    Ellen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That clean up is the key to everything. It makes things so much easier, despite the fact that the kids rarely cooperate.

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  13. Hahahah...sounds like chaos. No thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did my best to avoid it, but they got me.

      Delete
  14. Wow. Did they pay your for your services, or were they holding a close family friend (is Red ok???) hostage?? I have 2 youngins, and you still couldnt' pay me enough to spend time in a room full of kids. Sometimes, I can't even stand to be around mine. And if you replace "sometimes" with "every day of my life" then you would be closer to the truth. ((Shudder))

    Oh, and cute clown. He looks cuddly. And joyous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Red is fine. In fact, she got to see me deal with children for a good portion of yesterday. I believe she will be writing about it soon.

      That clown was Pennywise the clown from the Stephen King movie IT, played by Tim Curry.

      Delete
    2. I had NO IDEA that was Tim Curry, although I did recognize it as the clown from IT. I saw that so many eons ago, I don't even think I was aware of who Tim Curry was at that point. I have never watched IT again, for obvious reasons.

      Delete
    3. You can see that it's him once you know, but I'm guessing you won't go back to look.

      Delete
  15. I read this so fast, because I wanted to scroll past IT!!! Hate that clown!!! (but SUCH a good movie)
    Thanks for the raisins = bug idea, putting that down in my parent notebook.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are quite welcome. It was more of an accidental fluke, but it worked. They all ate and none complained.

      Delete
  16. My boys would have LOVED to have been in this group!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to keep the kids happy. I am fairly good at not letting them know how much I don't like them.

      Delete
  17. Yeah. The one kids I like to care for are my own. I have no desire to take care of a room full of other people's kids. Ever. Kudos for your quick thinking and avoidance of disaster!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It does seem to be different when it is your own kids. I could tolerate my own a few more minutes than other people's children

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  18. ha, i love toddlers. they're so entertaining and fun to watch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People don't like it when I say this, but you can have them.

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  19. God bless, I could barely watch my own two......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to be a decent guy. I really had no excuse not to other than, "I don't want to."

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  20. I didn't realize kids were so eager to eat bugs. Would they like to come have a snack on my kitchen floor?

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is hilarious, I am so trying this tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Replies
    1. Thank you. I may not be good at teaching kids, but I know how to keep them entertained.

      Delete
  23. congratulations! i'm impressed - i can hardly handle one toddler, much less 24. but you can bet i'll be using that raisin bug thing immediately!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. This was easier than 24 and for a much shorter time. The raisin trick worked once. I don't know if they would go for it again. I hope to never be in a position where I have to find out.

      Delete
  24. #1 Clowns freak me out! Especially scary ones with moving sheets! #2 that finger trick ALSO freaks me out. I totally believed that trick when I was little. Now, I'm super scared!
    Your day at this class sounds like a nightmare. The scary clowns and finger trick is all too fitting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Clowns seem to be a pretty common fear for a lot of people. At least no one started uncontrollable crying.

      Delete
    2. Clowns seem to be a pretty common fear for a lot of people. At least no one started uncontrollable crying.

      Delete
  25. Ha! What a smart idea! I'm going to start calling raisins bugs. Love it!

    (Thanks for linking this up over at #findingthefunny last week!)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Fun idea about the raisins. And that clown? WHy? hahaha
    Thanks now I will have nightmares tonight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. My daughter loves creepy clowns. She found the picture for me.

      Delete
  27. I'm in awe that you even tried. Rooms full of small children scare me! Pretty sure I would have developed a surprise attack of the flu...visiting from the I Don't Like Mondays link-up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did my best to get out of it. I wasn't going to leave them stranded, but I did my best to hand it off. Thanks for stopping in.

      Delete
  28. I'm the opposite, I LOVE little kids. But, teaching Sunday School still is a tough job. You gotta keep those kids busy, busy, busy! I used to teach all different ages, and pre-schoolers were definitely the most high maintenance!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can have them. I like to be able to concentrate on the material rather then whether someone has pooped.

      Delete
  29. hahaha! Bloated ticks! Oh that clown. Dang! I give credit to anybody who can wrangle a gaggle of kiddies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Give me an older group and I can wrangle them as well as actually teach them something. I just don't do this little kid thing.

      Delete

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