Guestpost #13: Aaron Strate – Ten things I’ve learned from working with kids

Aaron Strate is a very close friend, with a background in media, comedy, and music, as well as being an extremely successful film and television editor. One day, he decided to work with kids, and never looked back.  Aaron is also a sick basketball player, with a killer 15-foot baseline shot and some smooth post moves. Aaron is good at just about everything he picks up, and so I am secretly jealous of him, even though I love him.

  1. Most people will either enjoy your company or not based more on the feeling you give off than any particular thing you say or do. This is especially the case with young kids, and you can always tell which way they’re leaning.
  2. I can’t beat the feeling that rich people who have nice kids earned their success and deserve their nice life, while rich people with badly behaved kids are undeserving of their financial success. I also secretly harbor the opposite feeling about poor people.
  3. Have a good plan and be ready to abandon it at a moment’s notice.
  4. Finding a quick distraction is a crucial skill to develop. When a crying child gets dropped off at our center, my brain runs through the lexicon of activities to suggest: “Do you want to…throw a ball? Play with a puppet? Climb in the tunnel? Ride in the car? Slide down the slide? Read a story? Draw a picture? Build a tower? Scratch at the window, wailing, as your dad reluctantly walks to his car trying to ignore his tiny child’s bitter sobs? That’s no fun.”
  5. Kids love live music, regardless of quality. While I’m not terribly confident singing and playing music in front of peers, it’s the easiest thing in the world to sing songs to children. No matter how bad I sound, they’re worse.
  6. Props to Filipino nannies. You ladies are multilingual beauties who work long hours parenting someone else’s kids, probably to support your own kids back in the Philippines. The ‘mommy and me’ class that I teach with the fewest moms and the most nannies is the most rockin’ class of all. Also, much respect for nannies from the West Indies; I love you Mariel and I imagine such a sensuous life we could share!
  7. Two years ago, I had a pretty successful career as a video editor. Then I did a 180, career-wise, and now I’m working full-time with young kids. It was scary and I definitely make less money than I did, but I’m a lot more satisfied with the content of my days. Good trade, and big-ups to the Boys & Girls Club for letting me dip my toe in before I took the plunge.
  8. I can remember 30 kids names after playing a name game once, but I could be stuck in an elevator with a dad for six hours and forget his name every time I blink. It’s probably John.
  9. Parents are dirty! They hide garbage and tissues and toenail clippings in couch corners, and they spill coffee on the carpet and pretend that nothing happened. They change their babies diapers on couches in a public play area and get indignant when you tell them to use the change table in the bathroom. Oh, I could go on and on. Also, it’s so fun to complain about work. This is a 2-in-1.
  10. It’s important to have a tough ego when working with kids. Sometimes a little boy is going to be so scared of you that his parents pull him out of your class, and sometimes a parent will tell your bosses that your art programs are “very uninspired” and “pathetic”, and sometimes a nine-year-old girl will organize a team of children to tackle you to the ground and throw hard plastic toys at your face (all true). Sometimes you just gotta let it roll off your back instead of soaking it in. That little boy may one day get to a point where he tells you he loves you and hugs your around the knees when you aren’t expecting it, and that parent may continue to enroll in session after session of your class and never mention the e-mail disemboweling she gave you, and that nine-year-old girl may cross the age ceiling for any of the programs you do and you’ll never have to see her again.

4 Comments

Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

4 responses to “Guestpost #13: Aaron Strate – Ten things I’ve learned from working with kids

  1. Becky Ferraptor

    This is so good, Aaron. You are such an A++.

  2. Large enthusiast from this website, a large number of your blogposts have truly helped me out. Looking forward to upgrades!

  3. natalia

    Aaron, high school me had a big ol’ crush on you when you were a Much VJ for about ten minutes. I think this worsened it times 18. Props, sir, and thank you for reminding me I shouldn’t be so scared of small children (or possibly making me MORE scared of small children).

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