Fun is serious work for children
It has been my experience as a child care worker that one of the most important aspects of caring for children is making memories.
A simple lesson came home to me recently in the task of putting a band-aid on a small cut. The boy had cut his leg below the knee and asked for a band-aid. At twelve he could surely have put the band-aid on himself, but taking the time to make a memory, I proceeded to give the attention that he really needed. The antiseptic applied, the cut covered, I made a face on the knee cap with the red merthiolate, and each time the knee was bent the little face shrank or expanded -- to the belly laugh of the boy.
The incident over, we went on with our daily routine. A few days later this boy came to me to ask if I could make another face, " ... 'cause that was fun." And fun is serious work for children.
I am sure that if and when the time comes that his own child asks for a band-aid for a simple cut, a memory will be there to say, "I care enough to give you a funny face on your kneecap and make a memory." Childhood memories have a way of taking us a long way and making them is part of the joy of being a child care worker.
This feature: John Egan, Child Care Worker, McAuley Nazareth Home for Boys, Leicester, Mass. in Child Care Work in Focus, copyright the Academy of Child and Youth Care Practice