I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with childcare.
Though I value the social interaction my kids experience, Mr4, being a very shy and anxious little boy, has always struggled with the daycare environment. I’ve always been ‘that’ parent at drop-off – peeling themselves away from a screaming child at the gates, promising him that he’ll have a wonderful day as I tread wearily away, carrying the guilt of the world on my shoulders.
And then this year, along came John*, a man who has changed my world.
He’s young, he’s full of energy, fun and games… and he has brought a little ray of sunshine to my mornings.
Because, John is the newest teacher at daycare, and the kids love him.
Gone are the mornings of tantrums and screaming. Now we can now walk through the gates, say our goodbyes and Mr4 will, with a little coercing, happily go his way – content to measure something with sticks, draw plans of the garden, build a fort out of bamboo… safe in the firm and quite male world of John and his little friends. Because he suddenly seems like he has a purpose with his day, and a place where he belongs.
A male pre-school teacher seems like such a rarity, and it is magnificent breath of fresh air.
But why is it that childcare is still a predominantly female occupation?
Don’t get me wrong, the women do a wonderful job and I trust them all implicitly with the daily care of my littlies. But there is something different about the way the boys play with, and relate to, a male carer. And I never realised it was ever missing, until it was there.
Before having children I always believed that, as children, there was no any real difference between the play of boys and girls. I was a tomboy so figured it was simply the purchasing power of parents that led to dolls versus Transformers.
But now, as a parent of a boy and a girl, who have played with the same toys and had the same influences, I see a significant difference in ‘how’ they play. No matter what games we play with Mr4 it inevitably ends up in someone ‘getting’ someone – some sort of battle, competition, or rough contact activity. Little-Miss1 on the other hand, likes to sit with someone and read, draw, or simply chat and sing. Put building blocks in front of them both; one will build it high then knock it down, the other will share them with me then tidy them away.
For me? Yes, John is the best thing that has happened to our little world in quite a while. I’m hugely grateful that at least one man in the world chose to venture into the chaotic world of preschool care. And I hope that one day, more young men might see the immeasurable effect, both as a role model and a play-maker, that they can inject into the education and nurture of our little boys… and step up to the challenge!