Thursday, May 17, 2007

[Childish Honesty]

I love little kids, and as it turns out, I'm actually pretty good with kids. I didn't think that would be the case, but I've been subbing for elementary-age kids off and on for the past 3 weeks, and I'm so moved by their unabashed displays of affection and blunt declarations of, "When you came in, I thought you were sooooooo pretty, and I still do..." This honesty, however, has a flipside that can be painful. Today, a boy came up to me and asked my why my face was the way it was. After I told him I was born this way, he informed me that it was scary--that I wasn't scary myself, but my face was. Now, at 23 years old, I don't take that nearly as personally as I did once, and I could tell he meant no harm in saying what he did--especially when he immediately followed it up with a hug and compliment to my personality.

Still, this tells me that I'm making the right choice in choosing to teach older students, even as much as I love kids. Dealing with that kind of bluntness periodically is fine, but to have to deal with it on a daily basis, I fear, would undermine all the hard work I've done for the past 10 years in trying to regain my self-esteem and convincing myself that I am pretty.

One thing I thoroughly intend to teach my kids before they even hit preschool is tact. Like I said, at 23 years old, I can laugh off a statement like the boy's, and it's no challenge whatsoever to pay more attention to that first statement, made by an adorable Branson 2nd-grade girl named Santana than to her first question, "What happened to your face?" (in reference to some structural scarring I have around my temples), because I knew she was merely curious. But if I were still seven or eight years old, both kindly-intended questions would have destroyed my world. At 23, I realize that little kids have rarely learned how to ask questions tactfully, and I am completely aware of the fact that their limited vocabulary might mean the only word they can come up with is "scary," although they mean nothing of the sort. But parents and teacher do need to work harder to teach little kids to choose their words more carefully, because too many such declarations can hurt the feelings of a secure adult just as much as they would have hurt them as a vulnerable child.

It's back to middle school tomorrow, and I must say I'm looking forward to it. These kids may be more rebellious than the little kids, but I can handle them better in large groups than I can the little ones. Oh, no doubt, I plan to have kids of my own (through adoption), but one thing about kids who grow up in my presence is that they learn early on not to judge people based on their appearances (just ask Kaylee, Wesley, Lisa, Abby, Ashley, Megan, and others). Like anyone, these kids (and teens, now... geez) are probably guilty of judging people in such a way without realizing it, but from my observations, they've a least learned to be tactful enough to refrain from blurting it out.
Well, now that I have that off my chest, I think I can rest easy. :)

[/end rant]

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