I have been a toddler teacher going on five years and I am here to tell you it is no easy task. If you really want to make a daycare worker angry—and I suggest you don’t because we have access to an endless supply of poop—say that working at a daycare is just glorified babysitting. No. No it is not.
Daycare employees have to adhere to state regulated laws that tend to make our jobs much harder. Try potty training a room of up to ten toddlers—who the majority are still learning to listen and a quarter of them are in the biting stage—and see if you still think all we do is babysit. You don’t understand anything until you’ve walked a day in our shoes and snot-covered clothes.
Being a toddler teacher isn’t just full of poops and giggles. Okay, it is exactly that—full of poop and giggles. The giggle normally follows the pooping; that is the most foreboding giggle you’ll ever hear. As a toddler teacher with a room full of potty training kids, I spend 75% of my time in the bathroom. No, that’s not an exaggeration. In a perfect world, all the kids would be on a similar schedule and would get potty trained within a day—but it’s a cruel world.
When I’m not in the bathroom, I teach the kids simple sign language, manners, shapes, colors, numbers, letters, and sing songs. I try to teach them not to bite, but toddlers are basically cute zombies out for human flesh. Rarely do I get to sit down or stay still for more than a minute. I am constantly jumping up to wipe a nose or try to prevent a child from peeing everywhere. Chasing after toddlers is exhausting—and they never all run in the same direction. Ever.
The things that I have to say on a daily basis are things that adults should never have to utter. Here are a few examples of things that I always have to say:
“Get your head out of the toilet!”
“Please stop licking the walls.”
“Get your hands out of your pants.”
Or even better…
“Get your hands out of your friend’s pants!”
My favorite is when you see a brown substance smeared all over the bathroom and you pray to God that one of your toddlers somehow got a hold of an inordinate amount of chocolate—and the tears that follow when your worst fear becomes reality. Or what about the time one of your kids—who was recently put in underwear—sits on your lap and decides now is the time to let that yellow river flow all over your pants?
Don’t get me wrong; I love my job and the kids I care for, despite all the gory details. The risk of getting peed or pooped on every day is made worth it by all the love I receive from the kids each and every day. I quickly forget about all the potty accidents and being bit on my butt when I see that one of my kids has remembered the sign language that I’ve been working on with them for weeks. When I realize that I am actually making a difference in these kids’ lives and am not just a body meant to clean up poop, I know that everything I deal with at work is worth it. Even if all I do all day is break up fights, wipe noses and bottoms, and clean up the hundredth potty accident, it’s all wiped clean when one of the kids screams, “MISS RILEY!” and runs at me to give me the biggest hug you’ll ever experience.
Sure, daycare providers watch kids, but we do so much more than that. We teach, love, nurture, and provide a warm and caring environment for your kids while you have to be at work or school. My daycare days are hectic and I often wonder why any sane person would voluntarily take on a room of toddlers, but those kids make me remember why. Those smiles are worth more than my low hourly rate.
I may teach the kids simple things, but those kids have taught me so much in my years with them. I’ve learned patience, unconditional love, and how to come out of myself and just be silly. No amount of bad days has hindered my desire to have kids. People think I’m a little loony when they hear that after dealing with toddlers all day for years that I still want kids, but it’s because of them that I want kids. They haven’t scared me away from wanting to be a mom, but have actually made me wants kids all the more.
If you still think daycare teachers are just babysitters, you better duck because I will fling poop at you. I’m not above that. I will gladly help you change your mind by allowing you to take on my adorable little monsters for a day—you’ll come away with snot all over you and cereal in your hair. And I guarantee you’ll never call me a babysitter ever again.Google+