One of my favorite parts of my job, as I’m sure people have guessed, is the great interactions I get to have with kids. I learn a lot from those kids. (Probably more than they learn from me…quick, someone make a cliché movie about me!)
I was particularly reminded of that on this day of days.
Sorry. But when I got word that the office was closed this morning, I was happy. At first. Then I got to thinking about all the work I had to do. It’s almost the end of the month, and there are still people I have to see, intakes that need to be done, home visits that have been missed.
Most adults start seeing snow days like this.
Whereas kids continue to see this.
As I wandered Central Park today, fighting off mild exhaustion and frostbite, I thought about what snow days used to mean. Before I was all worried about work. Even before college, when “snow day” meant, “Quickly! We need to get rid of all this booze!” When it was just about playing until you were too exhausted and frozen to move, but you still didn’t want to be the first one to go inside.
I present to you, the most important lessons I’ve learned from children.
- Be direct about your needs. Yes, people might see you as being bratty. But can anyone say they weren’t warned? This situation could have been avoided if you had simply provided me with a milkshake, as I asked.
- Be honest. Kids don’t waste time bullshitting like we do. A pre-schooler recently told me, “Sometimes I really like when you come over. But sometimes I’m ready for you to leave.” It was like a breath of fresh air.
- Spread the news of your achievements, and take responsibility for your shortcomings.
As in the case of a proud third grader insisting I read her straight A (OK, they use 4s now, but it’s the same idea) report card, complete with comments. Or the four year old, interrupting her mother and I to make this announcement. “Mommy, I farted. It smells really bad.”
I’m not sure if that last one was accomplishment or failure, but she was proud all the same. You did it, stand up and take credit!
- Do what you love. OK, this might be more accurately termed, “Do whatever pops into your head.” I think we all get random urges to do the twist in the waiting room, or demonstrate our ability to do a headstand halfway through a therapy session. (I mean…I’m sure some weirdos get those urges.) The under-ten set seem to be the only ones who remember how to let loose and give into it a little.
- Appreciate the little things. Whether that is three kids all managing to play with an empty diaper box, or an eight year old being transfixed by a pink plastic journal and tacky star pen, kids are good at this. (Nintendo DS is nice too, but a box is a close second.)
- If you don’t want to wear pants in your own house, then dammit, you don’t have to. This one has come up way too often for me to even have to explain.
Social workers talk a good game about needing humor to get through the day. We also get rather cranky when people don’t take us seriously enough. “It’s play therapy, not just playing with kids!'” Harumph.
True. There’s a lot more to what we do than just “playing with kids.” But when you get right down to it, most of my days involve Candyland, and at least once a week, I have my hand up a puppet’s butt.
Occasionally being able to see things the way a child sees them, though, reminds me as to why that is a truly worthwhile way to spend an hour. If other people don’t see it, at the risk of another cliché, it really is their loss. They’re letting a pretty great part of themselves slip away, and they’re missing out on a pretty fun way to see the world.
Aside from the simple fact that Candyland is awesome.