My first couple of days have gone rather well. Learning my way around the building was easier than I thought. There was a bit of a hitch with Dori's place. I don't exactly understand it, but maintenance has to do some more work before it's ready. The idea was to have her tie down on a bolt in the wall. Well, it didn't hold, and she pulled it out. So right now we are settling for letting her sleep under a table in a quiet room. I think 20 toddlers are just a bit much for her.
I go in at 3:00, and around 4:15 we take the kids to the gym for a huge mass playtime with all the other classes. This is difficult for me--sort of reminds me of recess in an elementary school setting. But I've been noticing a lot of things. The other teachers are very big on having the kids tell them what happened, and this is working for me as well. A few of the older kids have caught on to the idea that I need feedback. Yesterday one little girl told me that one of my babies was leaving the gym, and she went with me to go find him. She was really good about just "being my eyes" and letting me handle it myself, and I was really happy about that.
A couple of the kids are still ooh-ing and ah-ing about the blindness thing. I know it just takes time, and some of them will be moving into other programs once school starts. I don't know how to respond to things like, "I would be sad if I was blind," especially when it's over and over even after I've pointed out that I'm not sad. I'm really struggling with needing to be patient because they're kids and being frustrated because I want to be seen like just one of the teachers. My blindness is just a background thing. Yesterday I was holding a couple of kids' hands on the way to the gym, and one of the other teachers made a comment about me having helpers. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I feel like there's some kind of fine line between giving the kids too much of an idea that I need their help and accepting help that I really do need, like Rachel's input about the babyleaving the gym. I didn't need help getting to the gym. I did appreciate the kids holding my hands because I was able to contribute to getting them to the gym. I don't want to get obsessive about this stuff, but I'm kind of sensitive about wanting to be a fully contributing member of the team and wanting people to recognize that I am, including the kids.
I've had an incident happen both days so far, and I'm trying to wait and see if it wears off. One of the older kids is into getting his friends' attention and shouting, "She's BLIND!" Actually, he did this on Friday when I went in to talk to them too. I've been brushing it off because he's five, but I also feel like it's important to find a way to help him understand that that's like pointing and sometimes it hurts people's feelings. (Yes, I'm a big grown up, but it still hurts mine sometimes, too.) I know they need to understand, and I don't mind if they ask me questions, but it just feels like I'm verbally being stared at and that's a very uncomfortable feeling. I don't think it's so out of line to try to deal with it--people talk to children about not staring and pointing all the time.
This makes it sound like I've had a really bad experience, and that's actually not true. I think I'm really going to enjoy working there. I'm still learning voices, and it's harder to get toddlers to identify themselves. So I'm still getting used to them and "finding my place" in the swing of things.