Life lessons from kids

Telling the truth is a beautiful thing.
Kids are great about telling you what you don’t want to hear. They’re going to tell you if you’ve got something between your teeth, if your hair looks awful (“Teacher, why does your hair look like that?”), if you look fat, if you have a giant zit, if you smell funny (“Ew, Teacher! Stinky!”). I’ve been told every one of those things.

Political correctness doesn’t really exist with kids. It’s refreshing… sometimes.

I asked one of my students to draw a picture of me on the board.

Chances are, you’re talking louder than you think.
Either shut up or say something worthwhile, because no matter how secretive you think you’re being, someone’s listening, and you’re probably going to get in trouble for it. The grapevine’s more like a noose.

My favorite is when the kids start whispering in Chinese while staring at me. I’ll turn to another student and ask what the two whispering kids said. Students, at least mine, love to rat each other out, and I exploit that every chance I get.

Lying is an art form, and most people suck at it.
I get lied to about where workbooks are, why their homework isn’t done, who stole the markerboard eraser. Once again, the other kids will pipe up and tattle, but it’s generally unnecessary. If they don’t, I push that kid’s lie until he or she breaks.

No one stole the eraser? Fine. I’m looking in every single person’s desk and bag. Ding ding ding! Shayna gets extra homework, not for stealing the eraser, but for lying about it.

“Did you wash your hands with soap after the bathroom? With soap? Let me smell your hands.” Ding ding ding! “Go use soap!” To embarrass them, I start whining about not wanting their “peepee or poopoo” all over me, then I pretend to rub my hand over my jeaned butt, then rub their hair. That immediately grosses every single kid out, and my point is made.

Overconfident people are fun to knock off their high horse.
Putting an overconfident person in their place is a David and Goliath feat, one that requires skill, offensive maneuvering, and excellent debate skills. Taking those qualifications into account, the only Goliaths I can take on are children.

Being confident is good. Being smug is bad.

This kid, who I actually liked a lot, was a major troublemaker. He always tried to one-up me in class. Finally, one day, I'd had enough and ordered him out of the room. He refused to leave, so I picked him up and carried him out. I win.

No self-confidence is really annoying.
I teach super smart children. When I see the potential and the knowledge and the capability right there in front of me, hearing, “I can’t,” is enough to make me angry. I seethe. Most of the time the kids are just scared of being wrong or of trying and failing.

I understand. I do. But it’s true – you only fail if you quit. And you quit before you start if you say, “I can’t.”

Hugs make everything better.
Most of my students are in the “too cool to hug” stage, which is cute; it gives me the chance to punish them by giving them big bear hugs and cooing loudly, “I looooove you!” They fight me and are thoroughly embarrassed, and it’s my preferred form of punishment.

One day, when talking about Christmas, Jack (one of my older boys) spelled “merry” with an A. I freaked out, clasped my hands to my chest, and yelled, “You want to MARRY me? Oh, Jack, I love you, too!” Then I rushed forward to hug him.

Look at me, I'm too cool to hug Teacher or laugh at her.

My youngest student, Jessica, is still a hugger. She’ll come racing up to me, throw her arms around me, and hold on tight. With that, she’s confirmed my status as a trusted member of her little world, and I feel special.

Hugs, when done right, make you feel important. When you feel important, the world is a better place. Jack isn’t going to believe the power of hugs for a few more years, but he’ll get there.

6 comments

    1. I have a post in my queue called “What teaching has taught me about motherhood” that I have yet to write, but it’s been simmering for a while. It’ll probably be another one of those rainy-day posts. We’ll see what you think of it once I actually post it.

  1. It’s a beautiful post. “Political correctness doesn’t really exist with kids. It’s refreshing… sometimes.”- It’s so true. I am going to agree with you on this completely. That’s why kids are the best. Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing.

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