I would never have imagined myself in a million years taking an early childhood education (ECE) class. Two classes ago we walked through the different day care rooms at night on the community college campus to get an idea of how the environments were set up. The infant room brought an instant calm to my being. There were soft toys, books, organization, neutral colors, and pictures up high to look at. As we walked through the different rooms, notebook in hand, I felt that I could see myself in a setting like this one day. I especially liked the pre-school room. There was so much to explore, inside and outside.

I have to admit that I’ve always been more of an animal person. Children brought up fears in me–with infants, there is a fear of how fragile they are. With the older children, there is the fear of how honest some of them may be, and how well brought up they are to know what’s nice to say and not so nice.

On the flip side, that’s what’s so great about children: They are totally honest.

Somewhere in my early thirties I was in a Safeway and I’ve always had tendencies toward shyness and insecurity. On this one day I had stopped off at Safeway on my way home from work. I used to bike to work then. I had my bike helmet on my head. It was a hot day and my face was hot and sweaty. I walked by an older child sitting in the shopping cart. she must have been five years old or so. As I walked by she pointed at me and said, “she’s ugly.” I just kept walking. Her dad was near by and I think he walked over to her and who knows what he mumbled to her.

All I know is that I felt about one inch tall. Even though I didn’t know this child, those simple words fed into an insecurity that I felt. From a rational perspective, I could talk myself around it or better yet ignore the comment. But emotionally, it planted a small seed–and not that I had considered working with children then–I think I told myself I never would.

I can tell that a shift has occurred in me, and at this stage in my life, my relationship toward children has changed–is changing in positive ways.

I’ve said it before, and I don’t mind repeating that I believe we all learn and grow at our own pace. In looking back at my childhood, there are many instances where I’ve had to battle with self-esteem issues. It feels good that as I continue going through life, the layers continue shedding, being replaced by new ones–stronger ones.

We’re never too old to learn and grow.

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