This is a NUKWIDLS (i.e. “Now U Know What I Did Last Summer) post, as promised two posts previously.
Last year, I started to volunteer my time at a children’s playgroup run by a church and this last summer I really maximised my time with them. The playgroup consists of about 30 children ages 1-3 years old. They are accompanied by at least one of their parents or grandparents. Basically, I help the teachers with arranging furniture, handyman jobs, playing with the kids and my number 1 job; storyteller! Some of the kids have some learning or development disabilities and we make a special effort with them too. The playgroup is also a place for parents to get support and advice. Now I am having a great time enjoying the kids.
I have no children of my own and I have no younger siblings so taking care of kids or even relating with kids is not something I have had much experience in. Furthermore, I am not the most friendly person around. It may (or maybe not) surprise you but I tend to be on the reserved side when it comes to relating socially. When I was working, I think my work colleagues would probably have described me as clinical, cold, curt and a bit anti-social.
Hence it was with trepidation that I first went to this playgroup. How was I going to relate with them kids?
To my surprise and many others, I took to it like an otter to water or a squirrel to a birdfeeder. Where I am socially inept with adults, I was right at home with kids. I know your devious minds are even now busy devising devious comments for this post like, “LGS, this says volumes about your maturity level”. But I really don’t care cause even better ….. the kids like me too.
Let me introduce you to a few of them. There is Harold who is truly a young gentleman – always polite, always asks before taking a toy and frequently helps out with tidying away the toys.
Adrian is obsessed with cars. I once wore a T-shirt that had a picture of 4 British Guardsmen in their bright red uniforms crossing at a pedestrian crossing in a parody of the famous picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road. A came up and started counting “One soldier, two soldier, thr……Car! Car! Car!” He had noticed in the picture, a tiny image of a small car parked way in the background!
Jessie loves to dress up and is a socialite in the making. Once, at the lantern party, her dad wanted to take her picture but she was busy playing with the paper lanterns and refused to cooperate. In frustration, her dad said, ” But I only want this photo to post on Facebook.” JQ immediately dropped everything and posed for the photo.
Then there is Owen. Owen loves to test the boundaries. If you tell him that he is not allowed on the stairs, he will patiently stand at the base of the stairs and maybe 10 minutes later, he will step on the stairs and wait until you spot him before stepping off again. He does this all the while flashing a cute and disarming grin.
Everyone calls 3 year old Shania an “old soul”. No baby talk from her. She seldom opens her mouth but when she does, you can’t believe it came out from a 3 year old. Once she was climbing up to the top of the sofa and her aunt who was reading the newspaper looked up and saw her and worried that she might fall, said, “Shania get down from there!” Shania paused, looked at her aunt and replied, “Why don’t you just keep reading your newspaper!” On another occasion, she observed one of the teachers cleaning up a mess on the floor with some detergent. When the teacher was finished, she walked over to the spot and pointed at it and said, “Why is there STILL some black black there?”
I remember her very first words to me. She was carrying a toy that she had finished playing with when she walked up to me, handed me the toy and said those three amazing words; “Put it away!” And when I hesitated from the surprise, she looked me up and down, gave a big sigh, took the toy back from me and put it away herself. I think Shania has it in for me. She is ever so critical of my performance especially when I am reading stories. On one occasion, I was telling a story about this man and I said that the man was very rich and he lived in a big house that was had 5 floors and 20 rooms. Shania barged her way to the front of the kids, walked up to me and corrected me, “That is not a house. That is a Mansion!”
Anyway, the kids and I have really bonded and I will soon be a little sad cause the older ones in the group will not be returning next year.