Three weeks ago I made a difficult choice to go back to work. I've worked sporadically as a freelance writer since we moved here, and while it's been a fantastic job, it's not always the most reliable income. In an effort to have the best of both worlds, I took a position as a part-time Pre-K teacher at the wonderful school Hudson and Lawson attended last year (the best of both worlds part being that it's part-time and allows me to drop off and pick up the boys and still have some time to spend with Scouty P).
Let me first say the job is a huge blessing on multiple levels (some more reliable income, great faculty and staff, awesome little dudes and dudettes). Let me then say the job is a huge adjustment. As a former middle school and high school teacher, I was a little awestruck by the preparation and pre-planning that goes into walking a group of fourteen four-year-olds through the construction of a paper bag frog puppet. I am in week two of my new gig, and every day is a bit of a learning experience.
For example, do not let four-year-olds use green tempura paint to turn a brown paper bag into a green paper bag, which will later serve as the body of a frog puppet. The result is a gloppy, torn mess that is too glued together to allow little hands to open the bag and animate their puppets. Epic fail for Mrs. Jones. Now, on a positive note, the little ones seem to find my dorky personality pretty funny. Score one for Mrs. Jones. Finally an audience who appreciates my childish sense of humor and willingness to humiliate myself in front of crowds.
The ultimate lesson I'm learning is that transitions are hard for preschoolers. Whether it's moving from a coloring center to a cutting and gluing center or giving up a favorite toy once I start belting out the cleanup song, four-year-olds don't like to transition. In many ways I sympathize. Sometimes grownups don't like to transition either, despite how necessary the change may be.
I hope my four kids aren't too greatly damaged psychologically by the frantic mess their mommy has been the past few weeks, and I hope the guilt I feel for being tired or frustrated with them eases once I really get in a groove and better master the art of balancing work and motherhood. They're going through big changes, too. As a first grader, Camden has homework every night. Hudson is adjusting to being at school for kindergarten every day for seven hours a day, and Lawson is preparing to start Pre-k at his big brother's school in exactly one week. Scout is going with the flow as the fourth child always finds a way to do.
They are the core of my heart, and I pray each day they'll eventually learn to shake their heads knowingly, roll their eyes, and say "Watch out, everyone. Mom is just being a little bit of nutbag right now." And then maybe give me their ultimate best behavior until the nutbag moments pass. Hey, a mom can dream, right?