I have a confession to make, y’all. I’m Catholic. It’s kind of our thing.
I don’t like children.
Yes, yes, a substitute teacher who doesn’t like children. Could I be more of a Hey Arnold character (or more of a child of the 90’s)? Let me clarify. I don’t like young children. Teenagers, the ones everyone else hates, I adore. They’re funny and sarcastic and I don’t have to worry that I’ll crush their little souls when I snap at them, which I rarely do, because I actually enjoy being around them. I know how to deal with them. I have an undergraduate degree in them. Children, though? Children make me wonder how the species has survived this long when they are so fucking annoying.
Public education looks a little something like this.
While I look forward to teaching middle school and high school, I do everything I can to avoid substituting elementary school, short of not paying my rent or starving. I have literally and purposefully waited until the last minute a job was posted to accept it so I could get paid the same money for less time with young children. I am not cruel to them, by any means. I’m actually quite sweet to them and would never wish them harm. A bystander might even dare to think I’m good with them and maybe I am. I wouldn’t know, because as they’re hugging me and I’m hugging them back, I can only think “Ew. Stop touching me. It’s cold and flu season.” I, of course, love the children that I’m required to love by blood, but I still avoid them between ages seven and eleven and here’s why:
1. They all like me.
Not only do they all like me, they actually care whether or not I like them. This means I have to be super conscious of my temper when they are driving me fucking insane. If I slip and snap at them, because I’m in a room with 22 attention starved human puppies, I could absolutely crush their little egos. I swear there are people who go into early childhood education, just so someone will love them, because these kids do. They want you to compliment their coloring (it’s just fucking coloring), they want you to listen to their stories, they want to draw you a picture, they want to hug you.
2. They have boundary issues.
Yeah, that’s right. They want to hug you. People are dropping dead of whooping cough (somewhere, I’m sure) and this little seven-year-old wants to sit on my lap and wrap his arms around me. Sweetie, I’m calling you Sweetie, because I don’t even know your damned name. Get off me… and why are you sticky?
3. They’re disgusting.
Seriously, kid. Why are you sticky? No, I do not want to see where your stitches were. Please stop wiggling your bloody tooth in front of my face and wash the hands that you just had in your mouth. Now wash them again, because you just wiped snot all over them.
I would rather have teenagers inquire about my vagina again than be faced with a hoard of young children who desperately want to show me their wounds.
4. They’re hypochondriacs.
If they don’t have wounds to show me, that’s quite all right. They’ll make some up.
“My head hurts. I can’t breathe. My neck hurts.”
“Mine does, too. Yes you can. That’s because you’re squeezing it.”
This went on for the whole damned day. The eight-year-old hypochondriac actually exists and it’s even more obnoxious than the twenty-eight-year-old one, because of the added whine and the fact that they’ve said it 93 times. Maybe this just works really well at home and they get coddled and kissed for it, because they’re all spoiled.
5. They’re all spoiled.
I live in the same white suburban middle class town I grew up in and it’s only gotten wealthier. Just recently, four eight-year-olds told me they own a Northface. Why the hell do you own a Northface?!? That’s a $150 coat and we may get snow this year! I own a Northface, because I work two jobs and I’m not going to outgrow it in the next year. You, however, are growing up in an obesity epidemic and about to hit a growth spurt. It makes about as much sense for you to own that coat as it does for you to own that pair of Uggs. Those are $200 boots, worn by someone who doesn’t even know what $200 is.
6. They’re repetitive and redundant and they just say the same thing over and over again.
Yes, I know you have a Northface, because you told me 14 friggin’ times! Your little friend there has told me five times that you went to P.E. yesterday. The girl to his left has told me seven times that you saw your teacher at lunch. The child with her hand in her mouth has mentioned her loose tooth forty-six times. Please go sit back down before my frustration inadvertantly showers you all with my brain matter.
7. They are little jackhammers of inquiry.
“Where’s our teacher? Why’s she gone? Is that your phone? What time do we go to lunch? Are we having indoor recess or outdoor recess? When do we go to the library? Can I leave my paper on my desk? When is lunch? Is that a Nook? Are we going to music today? Are you going to be here tomorrow? Is our teacher coming back tomorrow? Why is she gone? When is lunch? Why does it say we have P.E. today when we had it yesterday? Are we taking AR tests today? Can I read my book? When do we go to music? When do we go home? Why do you keep rubbing your head?”
Don’t worry. If you just stop answering, they’ll make sure to repeat it at least thirty-nine times.
Maybe one day I’ll get over my whopping committment and baby issues and I’ll have my own kids, because I’m stupid and think babies are cute. They’ll be absolutely fucking adorable until age seven and then I won’t love them anymore until they’re eleven. My Gramma has actually suggested I “farm them out” once they hit this point and take them back a few years later. I always knew she was brilliant.
In the meantime, note to self: Do not substitute elementary school on the first day of your period.