Thursday, June 2, 2011

Learning from the Young Ones

Why do I work with kids? Why do I have massive amounts of patients for young people when I can barely stand to be around most adults? Well, for two reasons: one- I was born to be a teacher and we tend to like being around small humans, two- because kids say what adults want to and then move on. They are the most honest and forthcoming people and I appreciate that more than anything else that they do. I have alopecia totalis, this means that for a great deal of my life, I have been completely bald. You would think that this would cause some stress/uncomfortable situations with the population that I work with. But on the contrary, they are the most amazing group of "co-workers" that I could ask for.  Kids truely do not care what you look like, just whether or not you give them the respect and support that they deserve. If you do this, your appearance will mean nothing.
I didn't exactly know this when I began teaching, but it was a welcome suprise! Most of my first day jitters included being nervous about how they would react. I have always been around kids and had just thought that those particular children were beyond their years and special, when they ignored my lack of hair and acted like I was a normal human being. Now they were special, but I have come to understand that the young mind is amazing and that kids are far more advanced than adults in the concept of caring about people for who they are and not what they look like. I learned my first year, to just explain my situation fully, not in "kid" language. They appreciate being talked to like adults and respond accordingly.
Although there were months on end where my students acted as though I was the most normal personal in the world and like they had forgotten that my bald head isn't the norm, they were also so comfortable with the situation that they would throw in a joke here and there. "Wow, Mrs. Brooks, you must save a lot of money on hair products!" or "Do you want to borrow my hat, it's cold outside." became fairly common comments. Wouldn't it be nice if adults would follow their lead? Kids have never made me feel uncomfortable about being bald and different. If they care enough about it, they will just ask, whereas adults will stare and whisper, thinking that they are being disgreet. Your not! I notice you! Stop!!! Take a tip from the 5 year old with you, and just ask! It still blows me away how easy it is to be me when kids are around! I have worked so hard to be comfortable with me, hair or not, and it has seemed to rub off on my kiddos. They too love me for me, and that is amazing!

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