Getting Schooled

Two months ago I began a new job as a receptionist at a preschool. I made the decision to leave my job for reasons I won’t get into here. As a receptionist, I didn’t expect to work so closely with the students, but I ended up in the classrooms nearly everyday. I didn’t expect to become attached to these toddlers and preschoolers, but somehow they managed to worm their way into my hard heart and soften it.

On Wednesday, I was helping with the private kindergarten class and as I headed back to the front desk, the entire class came up and collectively hugged me. It was like a giant dogpile of four and five years olds near my knees. *cue heart melting* As I was driving to work yesterday, I was reflecting on the impression that has been made on me these couple months working every day with kids. So here’s three life lessons learned from working in a preschool:

A bad start to your day doesn’t make for a bad ending
There is always at least one preschooler that is left screaming and crying in the morning when mom drops them off. It makes for a real rough start to the morning, but after some soothing, I crouch down and explain that the day will get better. And things do. The day gets going and they forget that mom left. They become engaged in their activities and forget mom and dad even exist until they’re picked up hours later. It’s Monday morning, and I wake up late, forget to turn on the coffee maker, and some guy is talking on his phone and driving 25 mph. When everything is going wrong at the start of the day, I can often become bitter and resentful of the rest of my day. But a bad day can be redeemed, but I have to find the good in the day. I have to forget about my bad morning and focus on the present reality and the good in it.

Know when to talk and when to let things go
Tattle-telling is an epidemic. “He almost hit me with a paper airplane.” “She called me stupid.” I have had to explain time and time again that unless someone is in danger, scared, in need of protection, or hurt, they’re probably tattling. Conflict resolution is a real thing that I often lack in my own life. Do I go and talk to my friend when they’ve hurt me or do I go and tell another person about the wrong committed against me? I let these things get in the way of friendships. I find myself stewing in petty grievances that should be let go.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit
You wanted the blue crayon and you get the green one instead. Tears flow and friendships are seemingly broken for the afternoon over these sorts of things. Similarly, I become put out when my expectations don’t meet reality. I have learned though that life is not always going to go the way I planned. I can do one of two things: I can go into my room and pout about it and continue to stew in my misery, or I can look at the cards I’ve been dealt and see the good that can come out of the life I’ve been given. It’s the old homage of every cloud having its silver lining. I have come to realize that I’m only bringing misery to myself and those around me when I’m being a Debbie Downer about things out of my control instead of bucking up and putting my big girl panties on.

I realized that many of the things I tell these students daily are things I need to keep working on applying in my own life. It’s pretty humbling to realize that a 3 year old has a better attitude than me, but I often need to be knocked down a couple pegs. I have to see the contradiction of my humanity. The biggest question for myself today is this: If I’m 23 and suck at applying these things in my own life, how can I expect a preschooler to listen to me?

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