I deal with young children five days a week for nine hours a day. Most of the time, I’m fine. I’m too busy teaching or keeping order to think about my past.
But there are those times when watching the kids feels like a knife through my heart. Recess is one of them. I supervise recess four days a week. Twenty-five minutes of watching kids laugh and play and run around.
It reminds me so much of how different I was as a child. I never really ran around. I was afraid of getting dirty and the punishments that would follow if I did. I never really played with other children. I always felt different from them. I always felt like an outsider looking in.
…It is very difficult for me to watch children laugh and play. I want to cry inside. It’s not that I don’t want them to be happy. It’s just that I feel little myself while watching them so then I’m scared because I feel young and vulnerable. Then of course I’m mad because I feel vulnerable. The cycle is vicious.
It’s often times hard for me to stay in teacher mode when I’m watching recess. I have a tendency to slip back into the past. And just as Austin described, I end up feeling like a child. But not in a good way. I feel like at any second my mother is going to come walking onto that playground and grab me by the arm. She’ll drag me to the car and tell me what a horrible, misbehaved child I am. I just wait to feel the sting of the wooden spoon against my bare skin.
Is it at all rational? Probably not. I have to work extremely hard to convince myself that things really are okay. I have to constantly remind myself of when and where I am.
And then there are those few times when I have the urge to get out there with the kids and run around with them. Those thoughts scare me too. I should be acting like a grownup. But I just want to experience some of the freedom and fun that goes with playing outside at recess.
And as the tears are bubbling to the surface, I’ll stop. I can’t deal with crying tonight.