This weekend I worked in the Child Care Department at the local Christian Camp. There was a guest church in for the weekend, they had contracted the summer Child Care Department to find help and my friend is the head of that department soooo...I worked Child Care this weekend. Opinionated Friend was helping too and the deal was that we were going to spend time holding babies. I can do that.
Friday night we showed up at the required time and the kids started coming in. Turns out we weren't just in the baby department but the baby to 2 year old department. Okay, I can handle that too. I had forgotten, though, just how piercing a child scream can be when left with complete strangers in a completely new environment an hour or two before their normal bedtime. Wow. We had a lot of criers. A lot. I wound up with 20 month or so old E who finally collapsed in sleep after crying off and on for almost an hour and a half. It was okay, I could hold her...though my arms were aching. She finally, finally relaxed in her sleep and I went to gently lay her in a crib. Yeah, she would have none of that and woke up screaming again. She did, finally, stop crying and just sat on my lap for the final 20 minutes. Suffice to say this was not the night of holding a calm, gentle baby.
Saturday morning the lady from the church group who was heading up the whole thing, split the groups in half and O.F. and I were in with a group of six 2 year olds. The rest of the weekend went smoothly. I did, however, remember things about working with toddlers that I had forgotten. Like how hard it is for some parents to leave their children when they are crying. I get that as a parent the most natural thing in the world is to want to make things okay for your child. As a care giver, I need the parent to leave the room as quickly as possible after saying goodbye, even if their child is screaming and trying to cling to them. Most of the time, the child will adapt to their environment and get distracted from their crying within 5 minutes. The long goodbye is just torture on all of us!
I was also quickly reminded that little kids love to dump out every single item onto the floor and then proceed to step on them instead of picking them up. They also love the same toys at the same time and if one is crying, another will soon follow if not quickly assured that everything really is okay.
The thing that I loved being reminded of was the innocent trust that most little kids have with adults. Little S came in with her mom last night and was putting up a little fuss about being left at check-in. So mom walked S into the room where O.F. and I were. S looked at me and stuck out her arms in the international sign of "hold me". I think it took her mom by surprise, I know it took me by surprise but it also helped her mom to walk out of the room and know that her daughter was comfortable in her surroundings. That kind of thing is really cool...and so are the belly laughs of kids having fun! :)