So Much for Art Appreciation

“I don’t enjoy children this age.”

My son’s teacher looked at me in disbelief. She had just asked if I would be willing to accompany the class on a field trip. I told her that I was available, and able, but preferred it if she could take other parents first. I indicated she could call me as a last resort. Then I made my statement.

Such a statement must have seemed incredible from from a Mormon woman living in Utah. I don’t know how common the sentiment is, but I do know that expressing it is rare.

The truth is that I have small patience with children between the ages of 9 and 19. I enjoy babies and young children, with their curiosity and eagerness to learn — although actually raising another one holds no appeal for me. I like playing with babies, and working with little children, but I also don’t mind giving them back to their parents.

My difficulties with children in my son’s current age group re-asserted themselves yesterday when I taught art appreciation to his class. The task was enjoyable when he was in first, second, and third grades. Now it’s just a task. I’m not sure I can do it next year.

Do I love my son? Of course. He’s my son.

We have a lot of fun together. We play board games. We watch Star Trek. We bake brownies from scratch. We take road trips. He says funny things, and offers sometimes-surprising insights. But he’s an only child, and he’s different at home, with me, than he is when he’s around other children. He can be rambunctious, and even obnoxious. I’m fairly certain that, as a 10-year-old, I was equally high-strung and obnoxious when surrounded by my friends.

It’s not something we talk about a lot — the fact that sometimes children annoy us. I don’t regret having my son, and raising him is a great source of joy for me. But dealing with children is something I am not particularly patient about.

So, I’m not sure that I can handle another year working in the classroom. I’ve been told that I should be active in my son’s school life; after all, I work from home and I “should” be volunteering at the school more than once a month as it is. But I think this will be my last year helping out in my son’s classroom.

Spending time at the school isn’t going to boost my relationship with my son. I can supplement his education at home, and we can spend quality time together. There’s no real reason for me to go into the school — unless they need more parent volunteers to help out.

I’m always ok to help out, but I just don’t think that I can make the commitment. I don’t find it fulfilling; I find it stressful, and not in a good way that promotes my growth as well as theirs. Everyone’s probably better off with me not coming in.

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