Someone help me someone help me someone help me, was my internal monologue during my first experience with vacation Bible school. Surrounded by children. Small ones, who kept hugging me.
For context: I have a one-year-old baby who is perfectly content with chewing on his shoe for an hour, so to say I was out of my element is a gross understatement.
I had never seen so many terrifying energetic 4 to 5 year olds in one space. I felt like a pioneer studying an alien culture.
It was fun, I have to say, until I saw It. The Meltdown.
Honestly, it should be documented in child-rearing textbooks, and I can write it, as the scene will forever be etched into my memory, next to the equally scarring entry of my sister giving birth.
I didn’t know if either of us was going to survive, truth be told. Her dilated pupils, her half-undone ponytail. Her hands flailing and feet kicking.
Her screams echoed in the hallways, and the running of workers’ feet to her room matched the frantic beating of my heart.
Oh. Sweet. Baby. JESUS. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
I had stopped mid-sentence in a conversation with a fellow-volunteer, who happens to be a kindergarten teacher, to stare, and I literally felt like I was going to pass out.
I looked to my friend’s face in search for a similar reaction, but instead saw she had moved on and was searching for a misplaced Dr Pepper. Actually, no one in my immediate proximity seemed remotely phased by the torture screams.
What is wrong with these people…I thought to myself as I watched the mother arrive at last to scoop up the dry-heaving child, narrowly missing an assault of projectile vomit. It was my first encounter with the meltings of a 4 year old, and it was of epic proportions.
It is to you, pre-school and kindergarten teachers, that I salute. It is to you, parents of any child ever capable of making noise and older than 1 year old, I tip my hat. One day you will all have to sit me down and explain how you produce Zen-like patience in the face of screams and bodily fluids.
Carrie Taylor is a native Texan and mother of one.