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.