A couple of weeks ago, Nina asked how I would like to be an assistant teacher in the Children’s drama classes.
“Not very…” I warily murmured. Because the fact is… oh, let me explain.
I don’t remember whether I’ve told you this before, but the Company runs a Drama School, you see, where I’ve been teaching play-writing for a few years now. Teaching the grown-ups – or at least reasonably so… As of this year, we also have a course for elementary school children, and the people teaching it have suggested the need for an assistant, and Nina asked me.
Now, why she thought I’d be a good fit, is a little beyond me. In general, I was hardly born to teach… While I love the idea of passing on knowledge, I have minimal patience with those who are slow on the uptake. I swallow my frustration for the most part – but, much as I try not to, I always end up playing favourites with the clever ones. With the others, I do my best to manage my level of patience, and to motivate them – and it all goes reasonably well with the grown-ups.
Besides the small facts that there would obviously be minimal or no writing with that age group, there is that kids and I don’t mix well. It’s not that I dislike all children – just that I refuse to like kids because they are kids. Just like with adults, hedgehogs, and Baroque paintings, I have to like them as individuals. I don’t think it’s an entirely unreasonable idea – but I can see that, together with my impatient and selective nature, it’s not the best qualification for teaching kids.
I explained this to Nina, and she said that she quite understands – why, she feels much the same.
“Otherwise, I’d be doing it myself, instead of asking you.”
But, she went on to explain, it would do me good. I’d learn something new, make a new experience…
“Don’t tell me now: think on it.”
I thought on it, and discussed the matter with my mother and my friend – and they were both rather appalled at the notion: I teaching kids? Both stopped just short of calling it a recipe for disaster – but the idea was clearly there, and I can’t say I disagreed. And yet I kept thinking on it for a whole day. Teaching the kids. Working with people I like. Learning something new… Why, I’m always harping on stepping out of my comfort zone: what could be farther from my comfort zone? Perhaps I might…
And right at that moment… Recess!
You must know that the far end of my garden shares a wall with the courtyard of the local elementary school. It’s a big garden, so the school is quite a bit away. Nonetheless, when recess begins and the kids spill into the courtyard screaming to high heaven, throwing things at the wall – and over it… Oh, I know plenty of people who would take it all in stride – the howling, the damage to the wall, the dirt in the garden – but to me, it’s absolutely maddening.
So I was sitting here, musing that perhaps – perhaps… when recess happened, and the screaming horde invaded the courtyard, and I snapped awake: teaching kids? And just what was I going to do the first time they went berserk? What was I thinking?
I called Nina, explained that even just one unruly kid strangled would give the school a bad reputation…
She laughed and said that yes, I had a point – and I’m safely back to teach play-writing to grown-ups.
What can I say? I’m mightily relieved. My mother and friends were right. Crossing safety lines is a good thing in general – but a healthy awareness of one’s limits is perhaps even better?