#iteachtoddlers

Walks in at 8:00.
Meets mom and Child #1 in the hallway.
Offers to take Child #1 to the classroom so mom can get to work on time.
Carries Child #1 down the hall.
Between 8:00 and 9:00, Child #2, #3, #4, and #5 arrive.
Child #2 had a bloody nose this morning.
“It’s better now. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
Child #3 melts down when mom has to leave for work.
Child #4 melts down when dad puts his coat on the wrong hook.
Child #5 melts down when mom has to leave for work…so she picks him up…puts him down…picks him up…puts him down…
7 times. I counted.
Trust me: I get it. Mom-Me totally gets it. Teacher-Me wants you to kiss him gently, say “I love you, I love you, I love you”, and leave. Don’t look back…don’t you dare come back…until you’re willing to take your child with you.

Breakfast.
We need to eat. We’re on a schedule.
Toys are everywhere.
“Child #4, you need to put the food and dishes into their WOODEN baskets…”
“Child #1, you need to put the animals back into the GREEN basket…the GREEN one…it’s…it’s right there beside you…Nope…that one’s purple…the GREEN one…YEP! You found it! Put the animals back into the GREEN basket…and come wash for breakfast.”
Child #4 throws pretend food and dishes.
Child #2 gets a bloody nose.
Child #3 is sitting at the table demanding milk.
NOW, dammit. She wants the milk NOW.
But she IS saying please.
…I need to teach her that “please” doesn’t count when you’re SCREAMING…
Child #4 throws the baskets that the food and dishes should be in.
Child #5 is still sitting in the Safe Spot…with his blanket…and pacifier…
He’s trying to talk to me.
Surprisingly, he can’t.
Do you know why? That pacifier.
I wanna take the pacifier…
I wanna throw it away.
Today’s not the day.
Myth: Child #5 is not “ready” to lose the pacifier
Reality: Child #5’s family is not “ready” to lose the pacifier.
Trust me: I get it. Mom-Me totally gets it. Teacher-Me wants you to eliminate the pacifier. Destroy the damn thing. If the pacifier can be requested by the child…the child can just as easily request a hug…or a drink…or some time alone…or a blanket…or…or…or…

“Alright, guys…never mind. This is craziness this morning! We HAVE to eat. Now. We’re going to run out of time. Let’s wash…you can finish cleaning AFTER we eat…”

Breakfast.
Attempt #2.
We count the bowls.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
We count the spoons.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
We count the plates.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
We talk about who has which cup.
We talk about the colors of each cup.
We talk about putting the cup in a “safe place”…
“It’s like a hat for your plate! It goes at the very, tip-top… Awesome; way to go! It’s safest up there… Use both hands. Child #3…both…no…BOTH hands. Put your banana down first. No…look…listen to my words… Put your banana back on your plate so you can use both hands to dr–…Oh! Look! You did it!”
Child #3 beams with pride and spills the milk down her sweater.
Child #5 “paints” his hand with Cream of Wheat.
Child #1 wants Cheez-Its.
I don’t have any Cheez-Its.
STOP ASKING ME FOR CHEEZ-ITS.
Child #2 gets a bloody nose.

Playroom.
Back up.
WALKING to the playroom.
“We’re going to be POLAR BEARS today! Can you show me how a POLAR BEAR would walk?”
Child #1 sprints and hurdles the GREEN basket.
Breathing techniques! Thank GOD for breathing techniques…
“Oh…goodness…it looks like we all might need to take a deeeeeeeeep breath to relax after our crazy, crazy, crazy morning.”
Child #1 shouts:
“BALLOON!”
We do the balloon.
Drain.
Pretzel.
Star.
Repeat.
Whew. I feel better.
Jesus…sweet Jesus, I hope they do, too…
“Okay…POLAR BEARS take GREAT, BIG, GIANT steps…but they’re slooooooow…and they’re super quiet because they’re stepping in snow… Can you show me how a POALR BEAR would walk?”
Child #1, #2, #3, #4, #5…Stare blankly.
“Alright…let’s try…”
I prematurely open the gate…
Gate is open.
Child #2 and #3 = Perfect polar bear walks
Child #1, #4, and #5 sprint down the hall and around the corner.
Child #1, #4, and #5 sprint into the next room.
Child #1, #4, and #5 will hold my hand…
By the time I catch up to them, I finally realize I can’t hold everyone’s hands…
…maybe I can carry one…
…like a football…
and…
crap…there go two from the other class…
Dammit.
Shucks.

Fast forward.
Painting.
Why…WHY would I think that painting would be an appropriate activity for today?
I either: a) have incredible faith in my students… b) am just giving up on the hopes of ever maintaining any scraps of sanity by the age of retirement…
Therefore, I declare:
Let them paint!
Child #5 puts the paintbrush in his mouth.
“Child #5…on the PAPER. The paintbrush goes ONLY on the PAPER.”
Child #3 paints the paper. Turns the paper over.
The table is now blue.
Child #2 paints her hand.
Child #1 wants to do it…
Unassisted.
No.
No.
No.
Child #1 throws the paintbrush.
The cabinet is now blue.
Child #4 paints a whale.
“Neat! It sure is! Look what you did!”
It’s a blue blob.
Whale.
Got it.

Break.
15 minutes.
Leaves classroom…realizes:
“Wow. I’m winded. And a little dizzy.”
::slams coffee::
It’s easy to slam…it’s cold by now anyway…

Lunch.
Repeat of breakfast.
Except…
Different. Of course.
Nothing is ever exactly the same here.

Preparation for nap:
Child #1 is banging his head against the wall.
Child #3 is throwing stuffed monkeys across the room…
And laughing…hysterically.
Child #5 is jumping on his cot.
He has HORRIBLE balance…
Like…
I’m not entirely sure that it’s safe for him to even jump on the floor
Definitely not on the cot.
Child #4 is on the changing table.
I’m changing the diaper of Child #4.
Child #4 says,
“I’m gonna pee.”
“No…please don’t do that…”
“Well, I’m gonna pee in my diaper.”
Good idea.
For that, I am grateful.
Myth: Child #4 isn’t “ready” for underwear.
Reality: Child #4’s family isn’t “ready” for underwear.
Trust me: I get it. Mom-Me totally gets it. Teacher-Me wants you to foster independence and a positive sense of self and accomplishment.
Blah.
Blah.
Blah.
Child #1 is still banging his head against the wall.
Child #3 wants milk.
Child #5 is no longer jumping on his cot…
Oh my God…where is he?
Oh…geez…
“Get OFF of the table. Your feet belong on the floor…”
Child #2 gets a bloody nose.

This. All of it. Is before noon.
Also:
Hugs. Kisses.
Yes, I kiss them.
Those cheeks.
I get them, get them, get them
And we laugh and laugh.
Singing.
I can make up a song about ANYTHING.
Gimme a topic.
Hand washing.
Counting.
Shapes.
Dancing.
Impulse control.

ABCs.
Animals and their sounds.
Animals and their habitats.
Animals and their movements.
Animals you can pet.
Animals you don’t pet.
Spacial awareness.
Appropriate touch between friends.
How to be a friend.
Appropriate touch with teacher.
How to be a student in a group.
How to be a student. Period.
Appropriate response to fear.
Appropriate response to happiness.
Appropriate response to anger.
Appropriate response to sadness.
Manners.
Prayer.
Eating utensil etiquette.
Potty training.
Gross and fine motor skills.
Language skills.
Coping skills.
And cuddles.
And giggles.

We have a lot of cuddles and giggles.

All the while, the fact that I have the equivalent to the cost of a small home in student debt rarely crosses my mind. All the while, the fact that people tend to look at this profession as “babysitting” rarely crosses my mind. All the while, the fact that those of us who teach early childhood education are often referred to as “daycare workers” instead of “teachers” rarely crosses my mind. Very simply, I don’t have the time to focus on those things. I’m busy laying the social, emotional, physical, and academic foundation of our future.

As the old saying goes, 
“My wallet is empty;
My heart is full.”
…It’s true. My heart is so full.

#iteachtoddlers