I think I have the cutest kids at my site, Cedarvale. They are spunky and silly and rambunctious, imaginative and a total handful. I was a kids ski instructor for the last two years, so I think I mastered the art of deciding what things are dangerous and when to turn a blind eye.
At Cedarvale, that raises constant questions. Which fights I want to break up over the scooter, when to laugh when a kid falls and when to run over with the first aid kit. When a kid climbs the fence to pick blackberries from their neighbors do I say something, when a kid goes careening down the hill in a miniature toy car do I catch them, when a kid tiptoes off in a not-so-subtle attempt to steal the paints do I let it slide?
I’ve had endless laughs since being here. There’s a sort of cheekiness to them.
“We’ll clean it!” Two babies jumped into action after “the bad guys” spilled applesauce down the slide. I jumped in, passed them cleaning supplies, and pretended it was the most important job in the world. They then had so much fun cleaning it together, that they decided to pour out their milk and clean it again.
When they pick up trash, when they help me set up, when they do a backflip in front of me, when they draw me something on a paper plate or pick me flowers, they just want someone to say “Wow your handwriting is so neat.” “You’re so smart.” “Wow you’re fast.” One of the more challenging children at the site self-consciously asked one of the volunteers “Was it good today? I mean, you know, was I good?”
They are all smart, funny, and good kids. They are creative, thoughtful, they look out for each other, and are comfortable talking to adults.
I realized quickly that all the kids needed from me (besides a meal obviously) was a little bit of attention and praise when the adults around them are overextended. My tiny addition to this community as a VISTA is that I have the luxury of time and energy to give. I’m not childcare, but I am an adult who can run off your kid’s energy so they’re dead tired when you get home. And that’s a pretty fun job!