Today in three year olds.…was AWESOME.

Back in the day (“the day” here being something like two years ago? ish?), my friend anibundel was a preschool teacher and would often tell us about her experiences in brief vignettes entitled “Today in Three Year Olds.” These tales tended to be priceless, and in ani’s capable hands, were always delightfully related.

And at some point in the past 12-24 months, when the whole “writing” thing really appeared to be permanently down for the count, I began to look very seriously at alternative careers, some of which were librarian technician/assistant, Trader Joe’s crew member, and preschool teacher. I didn’t get a couple of jobs for which I applied in the first category, was never called re: the second, and regarding the third, realized that going back to school in order to then earn a preschool teacher’s salary just wasn’t in the cards — but, thanks to ani’s most excellent suggestion that I try substituting, I did sign up as a substitute at the one place where I kind of knew the director already. 

And she never called.

Until a few weeks ago, when she did.

And now I’m on the list, and one of the teachers called on Monday to see if I was available this morning and I was and lo! I spent my morning playing with three year olds!


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my day job tends toward the dour. Indeed, even when I’m not writing about Israel/Palestine, I’m usually writing about some other horrible thing, like fires in factories or climate change. I do occasionally get contract gigs that involve happy nonprofits (why, look at these wonderful computer centers we’ve set up for our under-served youth!), but mostly it’s human muck and political mire.

But toddlers are cute as buttons only smaller, and they have goofy grins and soft hands that they rest on you as if you were a piece of furniture. They are proud (in the case of one young man this morning, very proud) of pooping in the potty, and very excited about snack. They want you to make funny noises when you read books, and if you’re very lucky, they jostle over who gets to sit in your lap (readers, I was lucky this morning).

I don’t have an anibundel-worthy story to tell — it was pretty much just cuteness all the way down — but I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did this. During those many, many months in which I was in the Slough of Despond, and not even making any money as I slogged through the Slough, I kept thinking “just find one thing to do that gives you joy,” and though I found many small things, I never found The Thing. I think for the time being, this is The Thing. Every now and then, I will spend two and a half hours of my day playing with toddlers, and even get a little dosh in the bargain.


Toddlers > than war and bloodshed, for sure and for certain.



  1. As the parent of a 3-year-old, I applaud this! Yes, three-year-olds are often delightful and rejuvenating. 🙂

  2. dave in texas

     /  December 5, 2012

    After I graduated in 2001, I entered a teacher certification program (about which the less said the better), and one of the things I did to help in the possible search for a teaching job was to substitute teach. Since I was looking to teach in secondary schools, I turned down the elementary school gigs, as there were more than enough secondary school gigs to keep me working every day, if I wanted to. One day toward the end of the year, they called me fairly late in a panic needing someone to work as a teacher’s assistant. I figured, ‘hey, I can certainly be an assistant,’ and said sure.

    When I got there, though, it turned out that they needed me take a class of second graders. I nearly fled, but am so glad I didn’t. That was honestly the most fun I had all year as a substitute, and it made me wish I had taken all the elementary gigs and turned down all the secondary ones.

    It actually started out a little shaky; they were getting a little rambunctious, and I wasn’t really sure if I could just yell real loudly at them, but then the intercom came on, with the voice from The Office asking if everything was OK. I said yes, waited a beat (hoping The Office would go away) and then said to the class, “y’all didn’t tell me they could hear us!” This cracked them right up (and seriously, I had no idea The Office could hear us), and the rest of the day was just fabulous.

    Oh, and even in second grade, there was a little bit of jostling over who got to sit next to me (alas, no lap-sitting at that age) when it was time to read to them. How does that thing go? I haz a jealous over your new gig.

  3. socioprof

     /  December 5, 2012

    Have I told you how much I am enjoying my 3 y.o.? The terrible twos are finally done (after more than a year and a half) and he is so much more fun now. Have fun with the little wee ones!

  4. Darth Thulhu

     /  December 5, 2012

    And now the Wee Underlords have their adorable, soft, puppeteer-mastermind hands on your heartstrings. Soon their plans will see fruition. SOON!

    More seriously, great to see you finding a Thing of joy. Pray it becomes a more frequent thing.

  5. SWNC

     /  December 6, 2012

    Hooray! If the pay weren’t so miserable, I’d seriously consider going into early childhood education. Three year olds are a delight. I love how endlessly curious they are and how honest. (And, sure, sometimes they’re infuriating, but so are my adult co-workers.)