I have known for quite a while now that I have a real heart for children who are struggling in one way or another. And I often find myself drawn to them simply because in some sort of protective or maternal way; I want to rescue them.
Although I was never diagnosed with anything myself as a child, I found school very difficult both academically and socially. And I don’t admit that very often. I don’t like to go there because the school years were easily the worst years of my life.
I can attribute my struggles in learning to my poor eyesight and undiagnosed vision problems that I never realised were impacting me as much as they were, but the social awkwardness may surprise those who know me well. I had wonderful friends at school and am still in contact with a lot of them and I’m quite excited about my 20 year reunion that’s coming up in October. So it’s not that I had trouble making friends or that I was picked on or anything like that.
You see – I am often incredibly outgoing, loud, talkative and often completely over-the-top, and that’s all a part of my sanguine personality. And I have wondered for a while if I am a contender for ADD (attention deficit disorder) as I have been known to jump from topic to topic as many as 20 times in one conversation, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that I am only this way around people whom I know love and accept me.
When I first meet people, I am not really shy, but I am cautious and very aware that if I take the cap of my crazy too soon that I may scare them away. I know that some people consider me to be childish and immature at times and that’s ok; I can’t please everybody. I am just made this way and I am who I am.
In my 29 years on this planet (see what I did there) , I have only known a handful of people who understand my completely random and sometimes strange thought processes, and whilst I don’t necessarily identify with any of the characteristics of Aspergers – I know that I am quirky and unusual and have always marched to the beat of my own drum.
So this is why I believe that I love and adore children who need that extra little bit more at school. I identify with their uniqueness and I just get it.
I understand their struggles and I really want to come alongside them and make a difference in their schooling lives. I want them to one day look back and be able to say: “That Mrs C, she ‘got’ me. She accepted me and she really honestly believed in me”.
This past two weeks I have completed 70 hours of work experience in a high school and I have thoroughly loved every single minute of it. The kids there are just beautiful and endearing and enigmatic and inspiring and it absolutely confirmed for me that this is exactly what I want to do with my life. At first I wondered how I would go working with children who range in age from 12 – 18 since my eldest child is only 13, but I was genuinely surprised at the ease in which I was able to relate to these kids.
Granted there were a few who had walls that I didn’t manage to break down in only 2 weeks, but even then, I believe that with more time and more opportunities to get to know them and their likes, dislikes and personal interests; I would eventually be successful in this endeavour. I believe that me genuinely wanting to help these kids, and help them to be the best that they can be is easily one of the greatest hurdles I’ll ever have to get over in this line of work.
And that’s mainly because some of these kids have made a lifetime habit out of misbehaving in order to either grab negative attention or cause you to avoid them and therefore not realise just how much they are struggling. Some of these kids think that if their behaviour turns you off; you will look past the fact that they are unable to do their work. They have themselves convinced that they are hiding their inability to do the work by drawing your attention to their disruptions instead.
I became frustrated at times in situations such as: helping a child who was struggling when another child who was completely capable of working on their own (but clearly couldn’t be bothered) would call me over when they didn’t need me at all. They were just hoping that I’d do their work for them. And of course; once I’d wasted time discovering this, I would have another task on my hands by trying to re-focus the child who really DID need the assistance.
I very quickly learned that at times like this, I needed to assess the actual request on the spot and make a snap decision as to whether it was really something they needed help with, or if I needed to communicate to them that I was going to continue to help the child I was working with and that I’d come and see them a bit later.
But it wasn’t just the children whom I learned a lot about in my time there.
I learned a whole truckload full of stuff about myself as a mother, a worker and a friend. I noticed that I started to become frustrated by “typical” or “normal” children who misbehaved during class because they were creating an unworkable environment for those children who were already struggling. I got a bit cranky about this because I just didn’t think it was fair.
But then I had to step back and look at myself and realise that I was the one being unfair. And I had to remind myself that every child deserved a fair go. Every child is important and every child needs support, encouragement and someone to believe in them. And I know I can be the right person for this job.
If I had to mention a downside to completing this work experience – it would be the fact that I lost my cool on far too many occasions once I was in the safe confines of my own home. This was mainly due to me not being organised enough to understand how much of an effect working full-time would have on our lives and how emotionally exhausting it can be to give so much of your heart and soul in the workplace. But that’s just a matter of implementing better planning and structure and working harder towards creating a working routine.
Personally – For two whole weeks, I ate badly, I stopped exercising and I gained a couple of kilos from stress eating. But on the whole, I would say that it has definitely shown me that organisation is paramount if I intend to forge a career in this field.
And I absolutely do intend to. This is definitely my niche in life. I am pumped, I am excited and ready for all that the future has in store for me and my family.
Blessings to all of you who have supported me this far on my journey, I hope you join me on the rest!