My son attends possibly the sweetest nursery school in the universe. I know this, because I volunteered yesterday, as the “special guest” since we were celebrating RockStar’s 4th birthday. And now I know a truth I did not internalize until now.
I am not fit to ever be a preschool teacher.
I mean, sure, I never tried to be one. It’s not my life’s ambition. But now I know that I could never, ever, do that job.
Let’s list the attributes of a preschool teacher, shall we?
- Yeah, a lot of patience
- Did I mention Patience enough yet?
- Cool — as in “has the ability to keep theirs”
- Ability to harness sarcasm
- Blinding optimism
- Lack of temper
- Able to wield power gracefully
- Flexible sense of humor
- Perseverance in the face of hopelessness
No, really, I witnessed all of these traits in the actions/reactions/behaviors of the women who nurture my son and his classmates 3 times a week for 3+ hour per day. While I was trying to control the nervous twitch in my left eye and refrain from running screaming from the room.
Of the list, I… well, I have none of these attributes. What’s more true is probably that the skills I acquired in college run contrary to the skills a preschool teacher would use. I was trained to be neurotic, to freak out on deadlines, express my opinions, and make order out of chaos. My degrees are in communications and English! I went to grad school so I could take literature apart into tiny pieces and make some weird sense out of it, and learn how to drink good wine on a student’s budget.
I actually like to think of the sweet ladies at my son’s preschool as actors. There they are, being saint-like in front of 14 little sets of cameras. They are angels! This is their role! Because, seriously, no one is this amazing. How can you repeat the same directions 8 times to a child who is picking her nose with one hand and tearing stickers off the wall with the other, and screaming, and NOT be acting, right? No one is that good.
It takes a special kind of person to be able to handle that so professionally, for even a few hours a day, and stay sane.
Of course, it’s not like a preschool teacher has to be all these things all the time, right? Maybe, when the job is done, the preschool teachers leave work and go out into the real world and are utter assholes. They cut you off on Pleasant Street, or brake too quickly for a yellow light, just to piss you off. Just to get some balance!
Being a *ahem* flawed human, I like to imagine my son’s angelic, ready-for-sainthood preschool teacher doing something just a little nefarious when the day is over. Like, squashing ladybugs with a sinister gleam in her eye as she walks to her car. Swatting a beautiful butterfly away with an annoyed expression. Rolling her eyes when a bunny crosses her path. Swearing under her breath as a breathtaking rainbow appears overhead after a soft rainshower.
I feel a little better, imagining that maybe my son’s teachers are just a little bit evil when they are off the clock. Maybe when those teachers arrive home from their day at work, they, too, put their kids in front of a video and sit down to play World of Warcraft instead of choosing developmentally appropriate crafts and activities.
So, raise a glass with me and sing a toast to the brilliant, amazing preschool teachers of the world who CAN do this, and do it well. So we don’t have to.