After taking a week to convalesce from chronic illness, I went back to work at the school yesterday, and it felt great to return! Six weeks of fighting viruses and a nasty staph infection that incubated in my body following a minor dermatological procedure left me completely burned out. My supervisor and the principal at the school encouraged me to get the much needed rest, so I spent the week sleeping, watching Netflix, and guzzling Gatorade. And writing of course. One major change had occurred at the school during my recovery week. The school added two low climbing walls to the Kindergarten and First Grade playground to give the students more activity options during recess. Last week the students and teachers anxiously watched as they were built, and today was the climbing walls’ debut. As soon as the First Graders hit the playground, they swarmed the walls, clambering rabidly over each other to be the first to the top. It looked like the Wall of Jerusalem scene from World War Z, only miniaturized. Thankfully, only a few children ended up with scrapes and most were completely happy being used by their classmates as human step stools.
A tight knit group of students at the school has really got my number lately. When I first started working they had me thinking that they were very sweet, quiet and innocent children with no ulterior motives to sabotage my career in education. This year they have started several mini riots in the lunchroom, often using my simple conversational attempts as the basis for their incursions. Most recently was what began as my asking the newest member of the group whether or not he had moved from the Philippines. This led to the group leader succinctly and harshly analyzing my inability to distinguish the origins of Asian peoples simply by looking at them. Somehow the group then swiftly transitioned into a political debate ending in the shaking of fists and chanting of “North Korea is our enemy! North Korea is our enemy!” as I frantically tried to get them to stop before my supervisor came back into the lunchroom. All this happened within a matter of 60 seconds. That is how quickly kids can turn on you.
There are so many unusual challenges encountered working in a school. I literally have no idea what children are going to do to me when I walk through the doors every day, and every single day it is slightly different. I have been almost barfed on (I turned and ran the other way, an indicator of my level of bravery), I have had to chase down runners and break up fist fights, I have even been doused in Go-Gurt, the worst of all fates. But I love my job so much that when it was time to come back on Monday, I was completely psyched to see my kids again, all of them! I don’t get paid a lot of money and I don’t receive compensation in other forms for my efforts. But I did discover that there is a hidden benefit to working with children. Those little boogers are swirling perpetual happiness creators, and the love they spread is just as infectious as their viruses. I am going to have to remind myself this during cold and flu season.