READING FOR CHILD
AND YOUTH CARE WORKERS
sales hype on the box of the new computer game caught my eye: “18
arduous levels to conquer! – Fresh foes to defeat! – Added weapons
to wield! – Breath-taking environments to explore!”
“Hmm!” sniffed cynical me, “Sounds exactly like the start of a new shift for a child care worker!” (The breath-taking environment was no doubt Ronnie’s bedroom – he was a born-again enemy of fresh air.)
I also always had this paranoid feeling that the kids watched me through one eye as I came in to wake them, plotting (like Christopher Robin of sneezles and wheezles fame) “How to amuse them today!” The whole point of child care work, of course, is that no day is meant to be easy. Around every corner there is something new waiting to happen – and when challenges run low, any self-respecting youngster will be creative enough to invent new ones – to test the waters of newly-emerging anxieties, to reassure themselves about our reliability, to hone their own developing skills at negotiating with their world — or just to get up our nose.
don’t be afraid of developing new weapons. Nothing is less stimulating
than a ‘same old you’ to kids who are growing and learning. You get no points in
this game if you are predictable; reliable, yes, but please God not predictable.
The bonus points come when you
surprise them with new moves – expanding their view of the possible
when for so long their expectations were dulled and limited.
breath-taking environments we get to explore come from the fact that our
same old unit is getting (should be getting) a make-over and a change in
the cast of characters every day. If your place is the same today as it
was yesterday, then you were not at work yesterday! If yesterday the
kids learned something and changed even a little, then the environment
you create today must accommodate those new differences. Only then do you (together with the kids) get
promoted to the next arduous level of this great game.
If ever the point comes when you don't feel like moving up to the next arduous level, then that's terminal, man. Game over!