Part one of All manner of bodily fluids; the secret thoughts of a preschool teacher
Argghhh!! I carefully wrote a post about my first day teaching preschool, but only half of it is showing! Now I must try to re-create what I wrote....
Tears. Mucus. Vomit. Sweat. Feces. Blood. Urine. Thus went the first day of preschool. It started with drop-off. Small faces looked bewildered as their parents hugged them and left the room. Bitty mouths opened and full-sized wails ensued. Veronica, barely two, hurled herself against the door, but lacked the strength to open it. She had to be satisfied with lying on the floor, kicking and screaming with rage. My co-worker Amy and I tried to comfort her, but she rebuffed our efforts with vehemence. We were forced to look heartless as this little girl with round red cheeks and chestnut ringlets sobbed and screamed alone.
The surprise was Keats, an adorable toddler with an impish grin and an impressive vocabulary. He had barely glanced at his parents as he explored the room on the Meet-the-Teacher day, pulling toys from the shelf as they sat playing with their smartphones. Now he wailed "I miss my mom! I miss my mom!" soaking my shoulder with tears and snot. Heather, whose mother is disgustingly beautiful, looked on, her violet eyes brimming with tears, lips trembling. I pulled her into my other arm as she began to sob. Siena watched, blinking hard, dry-eyed.
Meanwhile, Amy was attempting to pry Jackson from his mother's reluctant arms. He is a solid little boy, an only child with a mother as nervous and jumpy as a race horse. Finally Amy takes him and his mother slips white-faced out the door. Jackson promptly leans over Amy's arms and vomits copiously onto the floor, soiling the industrial gray floor mat. I set down my crying toddlers and run to don gloves, putting the rug outside the room, mopping up vomit, and spraying the floor with chlorine-free bleach. Amy holds Jackson away from her body and I run from the room, taking my bag of vomit-soaked paper towels to the outside trash can. I admit, I feel relief to be out of the room of screaming and tears.
I never thought I'd be in a low-paying job, wiping up the bodily fluids of other people's children. I have a degree in English and a graduate degree in education from a prestigious university. I taught English and History and Advanced Senior Composition. Pride rises to the back of my throat like gorge and I swallow it, hard, and smile at the mothers as they hurry off to run errands or work at jobs that surely pay better than mine. I never thought to look down on preschool teachers, but, right at this moment, it is difficult for me not to look down on myself. I focus on offering comfort to these crying children, holding them as I would want my own to be held.
For the first time, I experience what parents of preschoolers are always told: The tears are short-lived. Keats makes a beeline for the fire trucks and Jackson mushes playdough with his chubby hands, vomit forgotten. Even Veronica cheerfully pushes a doll in a shopping cart.
The day passes slowly. Amy and I take turns tending to their bodily needs.
For the remainder of this post, please see the previous one! Sorry for the mess-up!
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