I’m teaching drama for the next few weeks, as an after school program.
It’s bright-shining, rewarding, and I love every minute of the hour I spend with ten kindergarten through second grade girls. They adore me. I’ve already gotten drawings and paper flowers and praise in the form of, “favorite class” and, “you’re so beautiful!” (blush)
It’s always been like that with kids and me: not toddlers, but kids between six and twelve. They attach themselves to me. They look up to me, eyes shining. They run to me first when there’s a problem backstage at ballet. They instantly consider me their friend. Their comrades, who I’ve never even met, consider me their friend, too. Even in high school. Even when I was just a bigger kid, they chose me out of any other person backstage or in class or anything. They ran to me.
Hearing other people talk about kids or to kids, I think I understand why. I think I know why I’m the hero to kids that age. They’re people to me. Their problems are real problems to me. Children get seen as things far too much. Their parents don’t stop to realize that ten-year-old emotions are, in fact, as important and real as forty-year-old ones. Kids are like a kind of chore to most adults: a job you take care of a certain way. Not people.
How dangerous to not see people as people.
I still remember how it feels to hurt and worry and perceive as a nine year old. I will never forget. And that must be why, without any intention on my part, kids run to me and admire me, flocking around me and smiling and peeping for my attention like chicks. They know that I see them, actually see them, and they feel respected. I recall with perfect clarity every life moment where I’ve been seen as a person, as an adult and as a child, and I hope I can pass on that same feeling of empowerment to my kids: my after school kids, my future children, and the kids who will someday read my books.