Friday, September 16, 2011

Tales from a working woman

Ahh, preschool. Isn’t it a liberating feeling when you can start dropping your two or three year old off for a few hours? Don’t you drive away feeling as though you *finally* have an hour, or two hours even, to yourself?

I remember that feeling. That’s how I felt when I was the mom driving away.

Now, though, I’m the one sitting on the ABC carpet when your child comes into the school. I’m the one zooming cars, reading books and talking into turtle shells pretending they’re phones. I’m the one doing all the stuff that the drive-away moms are so thankful to be paying someone else to do for just a little, tiny bit so they can get a little, tiny break.

When I used to sub at my kids’ preschool it was torture. "Bye bye, spin class I’d be taking right now," I’d think. "So long, solo trip to the grocery store. See you later, phone call in which I could use the F word without fear of being overheard. I’ll just sit here and play with my child, which, while fun, is hardly any different than what I’d be doing at home, for free." Co-ops? The mere thought of them made my skin crawl. "That’s one step forward and two steps back," I’d think.

These days, my kids are off at elementary school. They’re still my babies, of course, but now they’re bigger babies. (Oh, ha ha! That statement is so funny and so true if you read it a certain way. And if you know my kids.)

Anyway, so I’m heading back to preschool – in the form of a two-morning-a-week job – with a different perspective.

And, to be honest, I love it.

I love the smells of preschool paint and play doh. I love snack time with little tiny cups and little tiny chairs. I love how I can say, "Oh, sweetie, please spit out those marbles" in a very calm voice, as opposed to the Mommy Voice that screams, "OH MY GOD YOU’RE GOING TO CHOKE NEVER EVER EVER EVER PUT MARBLES IN YOUR MOUTH OR YOU WILL DIE!" Or, "What was that? I didn’t quite understand you. Maybe you can draw me a picture!" instead of instantly calling around for the best speech therapist and googling whether so-so articulation is a sign of some bigger neurological problem. I love how a pee-pee accident doesn’t make me worry the child will wet her wedding dress and how I don’t have to surreptitiously examine every head for signs of lice.

(I’m not saying I do that in elementary school. Really. I don’t. But lice is pretty rare in preschool.)

(I think.)

(If I’m wrong, tell me, please, so I can steer clear of obsessive itchers.)

It’s not all a bowl of cherries, of course. Sometimes, for example, you can be pushing kids on the tire swing, which is in a very high tree so it swings with some momentum, and you can lean in to push right as a little cherub throws her head back laughing. That little head can knock into your face with such force you can feel like there’s an earthquake in your sinuses. You could, potentially, want to cry. Maybe you’d even instinctively look around for the teacher, before you’d realize you were the teacher and had to ask the concrete-headed girl if she’s okay instead of going inside to lie down with Mr. Boo Boo and a glass of water.

That could happen, you know.

My stay-at-home friends still can’t figure out why I think this little job is fun.

My working friends still can't figure out how I can call it a "job" with a straight face.

Whit still can’t figure out how I could get a black eye surrounded by three year olds.

My kids still can’t figure out why I was so tired two days this week I put my head down on the table to "rest my eyes" during dinner.

And I haven’t gotten paid yet, but the experience of filling out a W-2 was thrilling to an almost inappropriate level, to tell you the truth.

So, if you find a great writing job in need of an enthusiastic writer, call me. Until then you can find me in the sand box. Or pushing the tire swing, unless they tell me I’m not allowed to wear a protective face mask when I have swing duty.

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