From a very young age I knew I wanted to teach. To be able to reach the mind of a young child and help him or her to expand their knowledge.
My parents had old schoolhouse desks that took up residence in our corn crib. Thankfully this building was never used to house corn. It was my one room schoolhouse. I was the teacher, the principal, Ms. Beadle from Little House on the Prairie. I even went for the bun when my hair was longer and may have purchased a bonnet when I visited Walnut Grove in 5th grade just to have the complete ensemble.
On weekends and almost daily throughout the summer I called to order my brother and sister. They had homework. They stood in the corner when they were bad. They had to raise their hands to answer questions. They were quite unruly students, I must say. Certainly it wasn’t my teaching abilities.
Though I aged with time, my vision of teaching never faltered. I’m certain that dream I had did not impress my siblings. Regardless, I left home at 18 to pursue my college degree in Elementary Education.
Fast forward many years and several career detours later. That dream to be a teacher still lives on. It is what I do daily. However, it looks very different from that little schoolhouse in the corn crib.
My students are parents. Adults of all ages. Some still in high school, some verging on retirement, some with the responsibilities of their children’s children. My job? To teach them about the young children in their lives.
I spend everyday in a career that couldn’t be more rewarding. I now work with infants and toddlers. Children in the age group of birth to 3 years old. These children have developmental delays of one kind or another. Their parents look to me to help, to provide understanding, to provide support. It is my job to know about their children, to know about the needs, to provide the interventions. In return I get the privilege of watching the most amazing young minds grow and prosper to the best of their abilities.
I have been a part of so many very young lives. Little souls whose parents were told they would never amount to anything. Children who overcome the odds against them to do amazing things. A little girl with only half of her brain who learned to walk and explored the Tupperware cabinet like all other 2 year olds. A little boy who brought his mother the utmost joy, who had a smile like no other, who passed away just before his 2nd birthday having lived a life that many adults would be jealous of. Countless parents who were told by someone that their child would never talk and now they spend their days listening to the sweetest words ever to be uttered by a little person.
I share with the parents of these young ones that everyone has a brick wall. It isn’t up to the doctors or therapists or even developmental specialists to determine how far a child will go. It is up to that child to dictate how far he or she will go given all of the appropriate interventions and supports. Isn’t that what we all need? A way to be supported so that we can be all that we can be?
All of these little angels are blank slates. Their young minds are just waiting for the world to unfold in front of them. They are anxious to learn and experience all that they are capable of. They haven’t yet been tainted by the negativity of this skeptical world.
And in the end, they teach me. These little ones whom age has scarcely touched. They share lessons in compassion and patience and understanding and frustration. They keep my mind churning, always looking for another way to reach out and make a difference. They radiate a love like no other and know no fear. They are wise far beyond their years. They have an unbelievable amount of courage and strength.
I have been blessed, through my job, with the knowledge that all age groups are not created equal. Given the opportunity I choose the young ones for they see life as it is, not as it should be.