By Katy Chapin
Even when I was 5-years-old, I knew I wanted to grow up to be an elementary school teacher. There was never any doubt. I loved the idea of being around kids all day and as I grew, that idea only got stronger. I saw qualities in myself that would be great for a teacher: I was patient, organized and driven. I surrounded myself with kids as much as possible until I could get a real job working at a gym's Kid's Club.
For two years I worked with kids ranging from 4-months to 6-years-old. Yes, every now and then there was the angel child who made the work day that much easier … but then there were the others. Those were the kids who tried to escape out the door when no one was looking or those who just liked to punch their friends.
Once, while I finished cleaning up the room and got the paperwork in order, I waited with one little girl for her mom to pick her up. I thought nothing of the girl standing on top of the slide until a stream of liquid flowed down. She was peeing all over her clothes, down the slide and onto the toys. I ran over to try and get her into the bathroom but it was too late. I now had the enjoyable job of cleaning up not only a wet little girl, but all the toys again, too.
In case working in the Kid's Club was not enough adventure, last summer I was a nanny for two families. Luke was a 6-month-old cutie, but he could also cry louder than any other kid I have ever heard. While I normally loved watching Luke, the only thing about this day that I loved was leaving. Luke cried for two straight hours as I frantically tried to think of something to calm him. I tried changing, feeding and rocking him. I desperately ran around the house looking for something to soothe his screams. Nothing worked. Out of ideas, I counted down the minutes until his mom would be home. I tried to find something that would take my own mind off the terrible noise as I rocked him. I couldn't focus on television and the music could not get loud enough. When she finally arrived and I told her everything that I tried, she remembered that she had taken his blanket with her and he needed that before he could go to sleep. After I gave him his blanket, he immediately stopped crying.
Logan, a bright 5-year-old who spent his summer mornings inside reading and doing math, also enjoyed driving me crazy. When I took Logan and his 18-month-old brother Tucker to the park, he played a game with me, more fun for him than me, where he would jump on his bike and take off. As he flew away from me, I grabbed Tucker and scrambled to keep up with him.
The chase was over and the boys were caught. I put a television show on for Logan while I put Tucker down for a nap. Once Tucker had dozed off, I set my attention to Logan. When I arrived downstairs, Logan was no longer sitting on the couch. I assumed he was just around the room somewhere. But after scanning the downstairs, I was still alone. A slight fear went through me as I called out his name. I checked all around the house, the garage, the backyard; and with every passing second, the fear continued to grow. I darted to the front door to check outside when all of a sudden I heard, "Katy, I'm just right here," through the baby monitor. I was suddenly flooded with relief as well as anger. "I just want to play alone," he said. After a few minutes of begging him to come out of hiding, I finally gave in. "O.K. Logan, if you come out I will give you a cookie." At the end of this whole ordeal, Logan came out from under his brother's crib laughing and enjoyed a cookie. I left the situation swearing off kids forever and still slightly shaky. Even once my nerves had calmed and I was able to take a breath, I decided I did not want to be a teacher.