The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Having baby fever as a college student

As we get older, spending time with kids can teach us more about exploration

When I was working at a sleep-away summer camp during my junior and senior years
of high school, we used to say that camp counseling was the best form of birth control.

For two weeks you become a parental figure to eight children and, in the summer heat, it’s
exhausting. It goes a little like:

“Yes, you do have to take a shower. Your feet have literally turned black with dirt.”

“Yes, you do have to drink water.”

“No, you can’t just eat bread for every meal.”

“No, you can’t put soaking wet clothes in your laundry bag and expect it not to be moldy and smelly.”

“No, you can’t hit other people and curse them out because they won’t give you the ball they were playing with.”

And of course:

“Please, please, be quiet and go to sleep.”

As a lesbian who never really planned on having kids of my own, I didn’t need camp counselor-induced birth control. But honestly, as exhausting as that job was, it had from time to time the opposite effect.

Kids are funny, genuinely hilarious. Sometimes it is intentional. Other times, they say
the most random things. They are still trying to piece together parts of the world and sometimes they don’t quite fit. Like saying an idiom wrong, for example, or, on one memorable occasion, singing “Jolene” by Dolly Parton after hitting their funny bone because they thought the lyrics said something about it.

(I gave up trying to understand how they could possibly get from “I’m begging you please don’t take my man” to anything related to elbows).

Kids are also just easy to please. If you are older than them (but not too old), they will begin with a baseline assumption that you are the coolest person ever. Unlike adults walking through the monotomous world, kids can be convinced of anything and amused by everything.

I entertained a group of eight, 12-year-old girls for hours by dressing up as senior citizens, running around, and trying to steal socks off of other counselors’ feet because that’s “just what old people do.”

It all boils down to them being new to life. Trust me, we aren’t by any means old, but pre-teen and younger kids are still trying to work out the basics. They are inexperienced in the world in every way imaginable. It makes them unguarded, unfiltered, giggly, curious, and in awe with everything around them. That kind of attitude wears off as you get older. It is heartwarming to be around.

Now that I spend my summers working or going abroad, I haven’t made it back to that camp, and I miss working with kids. In Lexington, however, I tutor. Sometimes it feels like an impossible feat after a long, nonstop day of one thing after the next that began at 9 a.m. (and will continue until 9:30 p.m.), when I have had no time to get any work done, and when I really don’t know if I have the patience to explain the fives table (again).

But every time, regardless of how crappy my day has been, it is one of the best hours of my week.

My student is sassy and happy and trying her best to navigate the world. She never fails to make me laugh even as we work through (sometimes struggle through) one math concept after the next, we can always make it fun.

Being able to give them back to their parents at the end of the hour or the end of the two weeks is probably what makes spending time with kids more enjoyable, but there are so many benefits that come with interacting with children. Spending time with kids gives you a little bit of that inexperienced awe back as you try to figure out how their minds work and go on a journey with them to discover something new.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Ring-tum Phi Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *