“Working with children is just playing and colouring in”.
This is the commonly used description of what working with children is like. The reality, I can confirm, couldn’t be more different. If you want a nice, easy, stress free job full of smiling faces and happy staff then you really need to go and work as a lollipop lady because working with large groups of children is actually quite challenging. Forget brain surgeons and rocket scientists, this is the job that will send you over the edge of your sanity.
Roles of a childcare professional
As a childcare professional, you need to be prepared to take on multiple roles. Some of these roles will be rewarding, others downright disgusting.
- Poo scooper – who’d have thought that someone so small could produce such elephant like poos. Some of the poos that I’ve seen are not far off the same size as the child. How is that scientifically possible?! Where does it all come from? Also, why do children feel it necessary to smear it all over the walls like some sort of abstract painting?
- Cleaner – of many bodily fluids. Is that water on the floor? Someone must have spilt their drink…wait..no…a child’s pissed themselves.
- Child psychologist – trying to work out why that child has just walked into a wall, farted, and then whipped his pants off. Children are funny creatures, and their actions make absolutely no sense. Sometimes there’s no working out some children. There’s times when you just have to accept that that child is just weird.
- Waiter to hungry animals – it’s like feeding time at the zoo at lunch time. Although at least at the zoo, the animals eat their food with very little fuss. “This food is disgusting!” Well I’m sorry but if the food isn’t up to your standard there’s a lovely little place down the road you should try. I’ll pass on your complaint to the cook that your pizza and cake isn’t quite hitting the spot. It’s also rather fun trying to clean up after lunchtime. Have you ever spent your afternoon attempting to get soggy spaghetti mixed with jelly off the floor? Can’t say it’s much fun.
- Story tellers – trying to read a story to a bunch of toddlers who would rather sit and pick their noses and itch their bums is quite an experience. The best part is when you are mid sentence and a child looks you dead in the eye and then just yawns in your face. “Glad you are enjoying my story so much”. It’s also a lovely moment when you look down and half of the children have fallen asleep and you basically end up reading the story to yourself.
- Teachers – it’s great when you can teach a child all about the wonders of the world. You get to teach them how to read, and how to write. Then there’s times when you get to teach them that it’s not okay to fire peas across the room with your fork (I definitely did this when I was a child) and that when you pee, it actually needs to go inside the potty and not on the floor. I can’t deny that this also may have happened to me when I was a child, and a few times as an adult in fact.
- Peacekeeper – Your decisions as a childcare professional are very important. Have you ever given a child the wrong colour bowl for their breakfast? You might aswell have told them that they are adopted and that Santa Claus isn’t real because it would have the same reaction. You have to listen to children tell off their friends every 5 seconds. It’s like a child version of the Jeremy Kyle Show. Some of the tales that they tell are so ridiculous you have to stop yourself from laughing. “That boy looked at me”…”Okay I’ll just go and remove his eyeballs for you how’s that?”
- Glitter collector – Does anybody need any glitter? I only ask because I carry a personal supply cemented into my scalp that I don’t mind sharing. Glitter gets everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I once went home covered in so much glitter that my bathtub was completely covered. I spent a week bathing in glitter trying to get rid of the glitter.
Working with children is great fun, and it will give you plenty of rewarding moments. It will also, however, provide you with moments that make you want to rip out your own eyes and burn them. You’ll see a lot of poo, you may even touch a lot of poo. It’s all part of the job. So the next time that you assume that all childcare professionals do is draw pictures and read stories, just remember that we’ve seen things. Terrible things. Things that would mentally scar your average human. The shit stain on the wall and the suspicious yellow liquid running along the floor has become second nature to us.
If you work with children and would like to share your rewarding or disgusting stories then please leave your comments. If you are thinking about going into the childcare industry and would like some advice then feel free to get in touch, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.