February 25, 2014 by lucieromarin
New mothers tend to say things to me along the lines of, “Motherhood’s hit me like a tonne of bricks,” and “You don’t know what tired is.” This is sometimes annoying and sometimes hurtful, but I don’t think any mother has actually exaggerated her exhaustion, because we’ve been short-staffed at work this week, and I’ve found myself having to be one-and-a-half people in a room with thirty children, and I’m wiped out. And I don’t even work full-time.
Thirty! Three-year-olds especially; all of last week, I “enjoyed” conversations like this:
Me: Oh, Jojo! It’s time to pack away your work, to get ready for group!
Child: I don’t want to.
Me: You know we always pack away our work so the next friend can use it. Let’s go together, and then you can have a snack at group.
Child backs into the corner between the book rack and the fish tank
Child: I don’t want to!
Me: Please come away from the fish tank! You might get hurt in there.
Child slides to the floor and hunkers down into a ball of resistance. Suddenly his hair seems twice as wild and springing out all over the place.
Child: I don’t want to!!!!!
Me: Too bad. You have to.
Child scrunches up face. (You can imagine the rest.)
Sometimes, it doesn’t go quite so badly. For example, with one of the three-year-olds:
Lucy: Remember how you need to sit on your mat, to keep yourself safe.
Child: I’m stretching.
Lucy: Well, you need to stretch your brain by finishing your work.
Child: Ha ha ha!
Child returns to his work.
Similarly, the child who resisted my injunction to finish his colour block work before painting, and who demonstrated his resistance by using one of the blocks as a telephone, seemed only pleased when I picked up another ‘phone,’ called him, and asked for the Colour Detective to lay out his blocks matching pairs. Every now and then he said, “Two minutes!” which I think was the equivalent of Two Minutes Before the Bomb Goes Off! And this was fine, except that I had to sit with him for ten minutes calling the Colour Detective because he wouldn’t do his work.
If I was very pious, I would say, “I suppose this is how I seem to God when I resist His plans,” but the truth is that, confronted with a curled-up rebel crammed behind a fish tank, all I can think is, Why did You make them capable of having opinions??? Why? Why? Why?
The one interesting thing that this week has taught me is that belligerent male children like me much more than other children do, especially girls. Why? First, this happens:
Child rolls up his mat and then, instead of returning it ot its box, wanders into the snack area with it on his arm. (I assume that in his mind it’s a robot arm.)
Lucy (in alarm): Jojo! Remember how we carry a mat!
Child: I don’t want to!
Child backs into the water dispenser, clutches robot arm, turns his back to me, and then backs into the shelf of preliminary activities. Then he turns around again, sees me, and runs away.
But then this happens:
Lucy: Now you can show me how you sit at group!
Lucy experiences cosmic implosion.
Child falls on her arm and bestows upon it a sloppy kiss.
Seriously, if they’re going to embrace us and cover us with kisses, why can’t they also do what they’re told? Why are they the ones with limitless energy, when we’re the ones who have to chase them and hound them and clean up after them and wait for them to finish their colour blocks? And why are they so soft and squishy? Surely it would make more sense for the adults to have that radiant skin, while the vulnerable children were covered in knobbly scales? that way, they could fall over and run into things and wave scissors and pick up glass and not only would we not have to fear for them, we also wouldn’t have to do so much paperwork!
It’s a mystery.