On “Shaking our butts”
Have you ever had a minute in your life that you didn’t think would end? Maybe you were waiting for your Conn professor to finish up that last point of his lecture. Or maybe you were a little kid sent to the principal’s office for putting gum in your desk-neighbors hair. Or you could be standing in an increasingly flooding bathroom with three 5-year-old boys dancing around in water, refusing to return to their classroom. I have been in all three of these situations, most recently the latter.
I left baby-world of my internship quite a bit ago (I’ve just been too lazy to use my off-days to write for the Voice). I moved up to the toddler room with children between the ages of 1-2. They’re great for the most part and it’s a relief to be changing diapers less often. The kids also feed themselves majority of the time and put themselves down to nap. They listen extremely well and besides the occasional temper tantrum and angry biting child it’s a pretty peaceful environment. However, in the morning all of the children play together until it’s time to depart to their respective classrooms. When approached by a preschool-aged boy asking me to take him to the bathroom I agreed. I’ve covered lunch-break in his class and knew enough that I should have said no when his two friends “had to go pee” as well. But I didn’t want any accidents or bladder explosions on the playground, so I obliged.
Off they ran heading for the bathroom. I yelled “USE YOUR WALKING FEET” to no avail and finally caught up with them at said destination. When the third and final child was washing his hands I heard a “wooossshhhh” sound followed by laughter that can only come from five-year-old boys who did something wrong. I turned around to see what the commotion was. They were done using the bathroom, clean hands and all, and should have been waiting patiently to return to the class. Instead, it seemed like a good idea to flush as many urinals as possible, including one with caution tape x-ing it out. The laughter continued. The water increased. And I froze.
Dancing commenced (I obviously did not partake in it). They began singing and shaking their butts while exclaiming, “we’re shaking our butts!” One kid mentioned his penis. I was still frozen. I wanted to laugh, but this wasn’t funny. I was the intern. I was proving my inexperience by not being able to handle three five-year-olds in the bathroom. When I eventually coerced them out of the bathroom they dashed back to class. I was close in toe. I entered the room and told two of the teachers hesitantly, “Uh so… the bathroom’s kinda sorta maybe flooding, because well one of them may have kinda sorta maybe flushed the broken urinal when I wasn’t paying attention.” The teachers took command. They called the children over, talked with them, made them apologize and sit down away from their friends for a few minutes. I asked if I should get a mop. I was told they would take care of it.
I stood nervously while the teachers cleaned up the situation in the bathroom. Then things started to return to normal. The teachers conversed with me about how those three are trouble together and how the maintenance man should have been there weeks ago to fix the urinal. No one openly commented on my incompetence. Although in that moment I felt like time stopped, its just a miniscule situation. Was I embarrassed that I let three five-year-olds be out of control? Sure. Will something similar happen again in my career? Probably. But if standing in a flooding bathroom while preschool boys called me “young miss” and talked about their butts and other private parts doesn’t dissuade me from wanting to work with children, I’m not sure much else can. The next time the boy approached me to use the restroom, I obliged. His friend asked to come along. My answer? Absolutely not.