Written by Aisha, United Nations Volunteer
“Your baby is here.”
The clarion call. Anytime I got the phone call, I packed my ready-to-go bag and headed to the house in question. Like the bat signal, I was always there to save the world. Well, in this case, babies. They’re all grown now and every time I see them, I remember the fun times with the diapers.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved children and to some extent, I think they loved me back! Well, at least I hope so *laughs internally* - considering the amount of time I spent with them. I always looked forward to a member of the extended family getting pregnant, because I knew I’d be on baby duty. I was entrusted with bathing them as young as eight years old. Growing up in a family of seven tends to give you hands-on experience - with no qualifications.
This love for, and understanding of, children was probably one of the reasons I took my teaching job and stayed even when things weren’t always easy. “For my kids” was my mantra. It kept me going, it made it worthwhile, and it gave me fulfillment.
It didn’t hit me how much my kids needed someone closer to their age in an educational setting, playing with them and being the elder sister they needed. The connection I built with them made it easier for them to open up to me. Suddenly, the seemingly difficult child in the class wasn’t being mean for no reason…he needed love. The hyperactive can’t-sit-still pupil was suffering anxiety due to pressure from home. My two favorites, Tariq and Ahmad, were not ‘dumb’ kids, they needed a different teaching method.
Why do we easily place harsh labels on children when they’re not meeting our expectations? Why do we have such high expectations for them when we haven’t finished figuring out life ourselves? I have promised to do better, to be more patient, and to always remember that they’re children. They’re children. They’re trying to make sense of the world just as we are. Unlike us, they don’t have the years of experience we have to navigate the chaos that is life. You know what that’s like.
We need to be more intentional about creating a safe space for them to be children in a space that’s free from judgment, and unrealistic expectations, and inclusive of the freedom to make as many mistakes as they need in order to learn. It’s the only time they don’t have to pay for them!