You did something different…I don’t like it!I have always known I wanted to work with children. To me, it is the best job. You don’t have to be perfect or even work super hard to impress them. I took some of my older girls on a field trip last week to a TCU volleyball game. It was TCU’s homecoming so there were so many fun things for them to see and do.
All the girls seemed to have a great time. One girl came up to me and said, “This is the BEST field trip I have EVER been on in my ENTIRE life!” This young lady is 11 years old. You just have to be there for them and show them that you care. It’s easy … at least for me. I have one of the greatest morning/afternoon jobs at my school…I get to stand at the front doors and greet every student in the morning and send them off with a goodbye every afternoon. I get countless hugs, high-fives and hear highlights of everyone’s day as they rush home.With kids, as you can probably imagine, there are many highs and lows. One day you are their favorite person and the next they can’t even remember your name. Kids are funny that way.
Don’t underestimate them though because they don’t miss a thing. They have you all figured out the moment you walk through the door. On top of it all, they are honest to the tee when it comes to what they are thinking especially if it is about you or someone else. I had a day last week where I decided to curl my hair. It was one of those days where I felt confident about myself and really liked what I was wearing; and it was just a great start to my day. And then one of my students came up to me and said, “You did something different with your hair…I DON’T like it! Can’t wait for group today, see you at lunch.” Well, that was humbling.
When I think about the conversations I have with my students I am often reminded of the old Bill Cosby show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” They don’t hold anything back and 9 times out of 10 they don’t regret anything they say! I do lunch groups with my students and on this particular day they were extra restless. All of them were coming up with all these excuses to get up and walk around during group time. The best one though, was this little boy who raised his hand (waving it in my face, because of course I cannot see a raised hand unless it is waving franticly) and he finally said, “Miss Collins, I have to poop real bad, I’m like squeezing it inside.” (all the girls screaming “EEEEWWWW” and all the other boys laughing like crazy.) I looked down at him trying not to show disgust on my face and trying not to laugh. I replied, “Did you really just tell all of us that information?” He responds, “Yeah, but don’t be mad I just made it up. Can I go get some water?” Oh, how they aim to shock us. With all these great light-hearted stories come the moments that few get to witness. Sometimes it is really hard work, and your self-esteem and physical and emotional states can take some hits. But then you talk with that mom you helped find resources so she could pay rent. Or the single parent, who, because you made 15+ phone calls in one day to 15 different places, CAN put 6 full plates of well-balanced food on the table for supper for the family. Or the mom, who, with tears in her eyes, embraces you with the biggest most grateful hug, thanking you for being there when everyone else walked away.
This is my first “real” job as a licensed social worker and it has been a wonderful, crazy, fun beginning. I wake up in the morning truly looking forward to getting to work each day. How many people do you think can actually say that? I tell some people that and they say that I am young and it will wear off. Others say that I will probably get “burned out” soon and be ‘oh so ready when that retirement day finally comes.’ But I say that I have found where I need to be. I am in the career that I have been called to all my life. Sure I work very hard and some days I am definitely ready to be home and not think about work. However, when I look back on my days I get to say I was there for someone today; I worked hard to help someone in need who was seeking a hand up.
– Nikki Collins