The Hostile Child

In the holidays, children come out to play. Big children, small children. Lots of vibrant little minds. Red haired children, black haired children. Blue eyes, green eyes, grey eyes, brown eyes. Tall, short. Fat, thin.

Mean…. and kind.

Today I walked past some kids, and I said, ‘I hate kids.’

I did hate those kids. They were loud and obnoxious. And they sniggered rude things about me as I walked past. I smiled in a way that I know was patronising.

I love kids. Small kids. Even rude, small kids. I eventually won their respect when I was a teacher. I loved to teach them, even when they did not love to learn. There was a ten year old boy who all the teachers complained about. He was honestly a handful and a half. I found him hilarious. He had a quick wit, and if I wasn’t supposed to manage a class of thirty children, I would have probably laughed at his witty comebacks. However, I kept my face stony and told him to save it for the playground. He was always in trouble in my classes, in all classes, but I made sure it was fair, and I made sure he got his work done.

On my last day at school, I was walking by with a colleague and saw that naughty kid where stood beside his mother.

‘Hey, miss!’ he called, and I turned. He ran up to me and slipped a small wrapped easter egg into my hand, ‘This is because you’re leaving.’ He looked so shy and ran back to his mother without looking at me. I was so touched. I thought, sometimes teaching is worth it.

Then I moved to this crappy town. Where I smell weed everywhere. Where the glass windows of bus stop shelters are shattered. Where children swear at you as you pass. Where they hang around smoking and talking about things children shouldn’t think about until they are much older.

And as I walked, I thought, ‘I hate kids.’

I am a supply teacher here, though. I will have to deal with kids like these, and worse. It won’t be a little witty joke in class or a disrespectful stare anymore.

And I can’t think, ‘I hate kids,’ and just walk on by. I will have to deal with these kids. And you know, it isn’t always their faults.

Today a small girl was screaming into the wind, and I saw the ecstatic joy on her face because she was probably having a moment of freedom. Her shout was cut short suddenly, harshly, when her mother whacked her around her face and said, ‘Shut your mouth you stupid cow.’

Now I am not one to judge parenting, honestly. Maybe the mum was having a bad day. But the look of complete humiliation on that little girl’s face made me feel awful for her. Honestly, though, in this town, this is not the first nor the tenth time I have seen incidents like this. A mother shoving her face right into a toddler’s face and screaming at her to ‘bloody keep up or I’ll kick you one’. Kids who are brought up in a hostile environment tend to become hostile too. They become hostile adolescents and then hostile adults.

And teachers don’t really change much, but they can do their best to teach that hostility towards others is wrong. Who knows. Maybe a kid will realise as it gets older and change its ways? Who knows.

I am not looking forward to teaching the kids in this town, after what I’ve seen these past five months. On a daily basis. However, I am gong to try. I am going to enter with a positive attitude and good intentions. I am going to go in thinking, ‘I love kids.’

Kids need love, to give love. And I was given so much love as a kid. So it’s time to give it back out into the world.

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I am extremely nervous. I start my first day at a new job tomorrow – as a supply teacher! I don’t know which school I will be teaching at, I don’t know where it is or how far it is. All I know is that I have to be ready by 7:30PM sharp, and will have to leave at the drop of a hat.

I don’t know what kind of kids I will be teaching, and that worries me the most. I am really good with the younger ones; its the older ones I am dubious about. You can get some right messes at school; and its dealing with them delicately whilst grasping at shreds of wisdom that is tricky.

I am afraid of KIDS. But I will not show them, of course. I will march in there like a Trunchbull and show them who’s boss. I can be quite mean when I want to be. But I have never been in that situation before, so I really don’t know what to expect. You never know with kids.

I am exiting my comfort zone, that’s what, and the thought of it churns in my stomach like acid and worms.

Kids Will Be Kids

Today I realised I am good with kids, and even though I need to shout sometimes, they generally listen to me. Also. They like me.

Which is a warm thing to know, really. Unless they can sniff out the chocolates in my bag, in which case it’s probably just the bribery.

Bribery works wonders on kids, folks. More than telling off or strict behaviour does. All week the Year Ones have been irritable and hot and very disobedient. I had one child imitate everything I said, at a raucous of encouraging giggles from bright eyed counterparts. Oh how innocent those chuckles were, and how enraged I felt.

Finally I resorted to telling the class to ignore the little rogue. They did. Surprisingly. That only increased his naughtiness, and he began screaming in their faces as I was teaching. But they kept stoically on, until finally i turned to the piqued little fellow, who was all red faced and exhausted with the effort of creating trouble, and I said,

‘Henry, are you ready to return to your place and behave yourself?’

Meekly, he nodded, and went back to his seat, pleased we were all acknowledging him again. I didn’t hear a peep from him the entire lesson after that, and he raised his hand when he wanted to ask something, too. What a naughty creature.

Today, Year Two were not listening to their class teacher, who is a lovely woman but whose voice is a little low. She looked at me as I was leaving my lesson, and said,

‘You have to call these kids a thousand times, and it makes you not want to do anything nice for them.’

So I turned around, put on my stern face, and said in a loud, controlled voice (it’s my mother’s voice, and she is a bossy lady. I am far from bossy but oh boy, I know that voice inside out),

‘Year Two! Can you not hear your teacher telling you to be quiet?’

Still some chatter.

YEAR TWO!’

Sudden stillness in the class. Aha. I yanked their attention by the pigtails it would seem. She looked at me gratefully as I lectured them for thirty seconds about listening to their teacher, and they sat solemn as I left the class.

At this rate, I will probably lose my voice.

Today is Friday and because it was the end of the week I told my Year Ones that the winning ‘team’ (they are arranged into teams) would win some treats. Some naughty boys refused to believe it, and started making airplane noises and pushing each other when I was trying to make them read. Cross, I wrote their names on the board and when their team won, they did not receive anything. It’s always the boys, it would seem. The girls are (mostly) well behaved.

The crestfallen disappointment on their small little faces made me almost cave, but I did not give in.

‘Next time, you will remember to behave when I tell you to, won’t you?’ I reproached them, at eye level (I got on my knees for this).

They nodded seriously and went to sit down, looking like their world had ended.

They gotta learn, you know. And rudeness won’t be rewarded.

I do strongly believe that kids ought to be kids, of course, but kids also ought to learn how to listen. Play when it is playtime, and listen when it is time to listen.

Despite my harshness, however, they did all run up to me as I was walking through the playground at playtime, and hug me in a pile of chubby arms, calling my name.

One whispered, ‘Miss, you’re my fayyyy-vourite teacher.’

Huh, fair praise indeed.

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