9 life lessons I’ve learned from working with children

In the summer I work at a day camp, and this is my last week and I’m feeling the feels. It’s an all-girls day camp called Girls Rock! that promotes positive self image and self esteem (I know, stupid cute). The kids range from 5 years old (sometimes 4 and a half) to twelve, so I see, hear, and experience a bunch of interesting things, and what I’ve discovered is that children can teach you a whole lot of grown-up lessons. Here are a few:

 
1. Listen to people and they will like you a lot more:
     When I ask you to listen I promise that it is for your own benefit. When you don’t listen, you don’t know how to do the craft, you ask a million questions I’ve already answered, and I am not a happy camper. Listen the first time and you’ll make my favourites list. (Not that I have favourites or anything…)
 
 
2. Sometimes, speaking your mind with no filter can be a good thing:
     Kids say the darndest things. Often worth documenting in a notebook. Which we did. Again, not that we play favourites, but the staff was a little partial to kids who made us keel over with laughter at the shocking words that just came out of their mouths. Fan favourite: 5-year-old Grace singing “We Can’t Stop” because she just couldn’t stop having fun.
 
 
3. Originality is important at any age:
     Over the course of six weeks I encountered 8 Hannahs, 6 Graces, and 4 Avas. Come on parents, get it together. The need for creativity doesn’t end after age 6.
 
 
4. Look at the world from all angles:
     Particularly upside down. Some of the loudest giggles come from girls after I pick them up and flip them around.
(It’s safe, I promise.)
 
 
5. It’s okay to ask for help:
     I’m a fairly competent person, but when I have one kid in need of ice, another who can’t reach the toy bucket, and a third asking how to spell “friend,” it’s okay to ask for some assistance. I’m all for independence, but you need to draw the line when one child is strapped to each of your ankles, preventing you from walking.
 
 
6. Forgive where forgiveness is due:
     Sometimes, when safety or my sanity is involved, I get a little snappy with the kids. And when “alight, girls, let’s keep our hands to yourselves” turns into “I do NOT want to see you EVER hitting each other again; we do NOT do that at camp,” I worry that they’ll hate me forever for doling out the discipline. But the next second they’re begging to sit beside me in the circle. Sometime snark is necessary and I appreciate their ability to forgive and forget.
 
 
7. You can find happiness in almost anything:
      Ever feel like you aren’t doing anything productive with your life? Try building a space ship out of pylons, skipping ropes, and a deflated soccer ball. Pure joy can come from the broken and mismatched pieces around you if you find a way to put them back together.
 
 
8. Hugs are our greatest commodity:
     You think this hug is for your benefit but really I’m enjoying it just as much, if not more. Whether the other person barely comes up to your knees or towers over you like a tree, hug them with all of your might. Hugs are totally underrated, if you ask me. Especially the kind where someone runs full at you and flings themselves into you arms, nearly knocking you over.
 
 
9. You might be a lot better off than you think you are:
     One minute you’re bawling til the cows come home because someone stepped on your toe, and the next you’re actively participating in a rousing game of octopus. Sometimes you can bounce back from rough times faster than you can say “sympathy bandaid”
 
 
Kids are extraordinary, wonderful, special human beings who see the world in such an admirable way. They are blissfully naive, and their biggest struggle in life is when they can’t get their juice open. I feel sad when people say they don’t like kids because we can learn so much from them. I go to work every day and see these girls and imagine the successful, loving, and beautiful young women they will one day grow into, but for now I hope they all enjoy and savour their childhood, because it’s a magical time and they’ve taught me more about being a better person than they could ever imagine.
 
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