This is my second week working a specific job as a substitute special ed para for preschoolers at the elementary school I attended when I was a youngster. It's a little crazy being back as the school was remodeled and added onto the year after I "graduated" 5th grade and the playground equipment is different and the teachers are different.
But I have been enjoying my job.
At the end of the day, all I want is a beer and some adult conversation (between working with preschoolers and babysitting preschoolers, adult stimulation is VALUED and NEEDED) but I also thoroughly enjoy my time spent with the kids.
There are a few that have won over my heart. The Colorado Preschool Program requires that as many kids with "needs" are enrolled in the preschool as there are kids without "needs". These can range from sensory to physical to cognitive to developmental or in a lot of cases several interlinked. In the morning one kid with "needs" I have found is actually quite bright, but he's learned to play games with the teachers. However this kid has found a place in my heart.....today I felt that we are really connected, simply because I have been able to reach him at a point when most usually he's running away from everyone.
In the afternoon there are two little boys. One is especially smart, quick-witted and outgoing and I'd love to take him home with me most days. He's just a riot to be around. We seem to play a lot together (his younger brother who has "needs" is actually in our morning class and his brother's smile is absolutely precious.....he's my tickle buddy in the mornings). He also plays with the other little boy in our class regularly who has severe physical needs and that to me is just incredible, especially as he treats this other little boy as though there is absolutely nothing wrong with him.
The other little boy in our afternoons is smart as ever but has cerebral palsy, which makes a lot of physical activity impossible or very very strenuous to do. However, I've found simply through sitting and high-fiving this little boy that his motions are farther progressed than the therapies' ladies have said. He has the same cognitive development as any kid his age, just can't talk or really keep control of his body for obvious reasons. But when he smiles it's the most warming thing you can imagine, and he smiles often. And he smiles often for me....he's just as happy as can be. And like I said, the other very smart little boy and him play quite well together.
Last week on the playground while E (the boy with cerebral palsy) sat in his wheelchair obviously not able to play with the others, D (the very smart little boy) helped me to blow bubbles and play ball with E. Today we had a very fun time at playtime simply playing "walky talkies", mixing up the color shakers and playing with these little colored bears.
It's amazing how fast certain kids warm up to me and then warm my own heart.
I can say this, there's something about me that seems to allow those with needs to relate to me. And all the kids love the colorful, crazy outfits I wear....especially the little girls. They come in everyday wanting to see what crazy bracelet or necklace I have on or what colors I'm going to be wearing. They love to comment on how mommy or daddy would never let them wear this or that. And it makes them happy :)
Working with the kids has been rewarding!! I can't say I'd do this long-term but right now I mostly enjoy my job. Just wish I had more adult stimulation sometimes!!!