The joys of working in a daycare

Raquel Vaughn-

Summer is just around the corner. Soon enough, most of us will be finishing up our finals and heading home (or staying here) to work our summer jobs. For a lot of us, it’s hard to know whether or not those three months are considered some of the best times of the year or the worst, and all because of where we work. Our summer jobs are never the ones we want and half of the time we don’t even consider continuing them after graduation. You either hate working at your job or you tolerate working there.

Some of my friends work at a gas station and whether or not they say that they like it, I know what they really mean. I’ve worked at Kum & Go before in high school and I didn’t even make it through six months. Working as an associate at a gas station is not for the faint of heart. Some of my friends work in food service or boutiques, and some even work behind a desk as their internship. And then I have friends who understand the same pain and joy that I do because they work in a very similar field. Those friends work as nannies. I work as a daycare teacher.

After one summer as a daycare teacher, there are many things that I have learned. One is that children are brutal. This is something I knew but have rarely experienced firsthand. Have you ever had 20 children gang up on you like a mob? On a random afternoon, I picked up a walkie-talkie and played spies with one of my preschool friends. It was a fun game until every girl and boy decided that I was the double agent, the bad guy. They chased me around the playroom, and if you were to squint and tilt your head while watching the scene, then you’d probably see torches and pitchforks.

As a first-time daycare teacher, I thought the toddlers would be the most difficult to work with. I learned quickly that that was not the case. The preschoolers easily tore me to shreds every time I was assigned to their classroom. After wearing sandals for the majority of the summer, I decided to wear my Filas to work. During lunchtime, I was asked, “Why are you wearing boy shoes?” This girl could never decide whether she was my number one opp or number one fan because within the hour, she’d be sitting on my lap playing with my hair.

Having to act as the “bad guy” when assuming the role of lead teacher for the day meant that I made many enemies in this line of work. Three-year-old, snot-nosed enemies. Don’t get me wrong, I love each and every one of them. But sometimes—actually, many times—that love is challenged. During nap time, I suffered a nosebleed. What I didn’t know was that while taking care of my nosebleed and simultaneously patting a girl on the back, I would suffer verbal abuse too. She popped her head up and said, “Ew, look at her yucky face.” It took only seconds for another girl lying on a cot beside her to chime in with a “You got a yuggabugga-looking face! You so disgusting for that.” Imagine that I’m throwing my head back with a laugh and saying “Kids!” as if these girls didn’t hurt my feelings on a random afternoon.

No matter how many stories I have about the struggle of watching dozens of children at once, I’ve learned true joy. Kids really do keep a person young. The more time you spend with them, the more you understand the beauty in the little things. During my first week on the job, I had a preschooler ask me why I lived with my mom. To her, I was another adult. To her, I was old enough to have a husband, and kids, and own a house. But even after explaining to her that I live with my mom because it’s only for the summer before I go back to school, she asked me why I was in school. I quickly realized that if I explained college then we would just be going in circles so I said “Because I’m a big kid.” To her, it justified why I was older (because I was big) and why I was still in school (because I was a kid).

The simple things are the big things when working in a daycare. Every question and every answer matters. I’ve gotten questions about what princess I am (I said Rapunzel, of course) and what mermaid powers I have. I’ve been asked “Aren’t you coming to my birthday party?” and whether or not I can swim. “Maybe you can ask your mommy if you can come with me to my swim lessons and we can swim together,” was a response I got from one of my preschool friends. I’ve been asked if I had a husband, and when my answer did not suffice then I was asked if I had a boyfriend. When the two girls playing with my hair found out that my answer was no, they both agreed that I needed one.

Working in daycare is so much work. Sometimes I would even say it’s traumatizing. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve cried to my boss because the kids simply wouldn’t stay on the rope. No matter how many times I would sing the Tiny Turtle song, my preschool friends would escape the rope. But at the end of the day, you’re the coolest person in their eyes. They want to be your friend and they want to grow up to be just like you. So I metaphorically raise a toast to every single daycare provider and nanny. Not all superheros wear capes but some wear snot-stained shirts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *