“In order to gain their trust, you have to be like them”
I’m sure we’ve all heard this at one point or another. Whether it’s from movies (like maybe “Avatar”), or if you’re anything like me, you’re working with kids you really want to strangle half the time. Last night I was having a conversation with Jeff about the kids at work. I was reminded of the time when I went to baby-sit Albert & Justin for the summer. Jeff came with me the first day, and we seemed to hit it off really well. Until he stopped coming and I was left with the kids. Half the time I felt like we disliked each other because I was making them do things they really didn’t want to do. Jeff and I sometimes talk about families when we grow up; it’s settled that he’s supposed to be the “fun uncle” and I’m the “fun aunt”. Only now, I realize that I’m not exactly “fun” material. Every time I lead Children’s Sunday School, I always find myself very frustrated at the end because my plan always become diverged by their behavior.
So we came to the point where we talked about how childish he can be sometimes, but at the same time he’s mature and grounded when he needs to be. Although a lot of times we make fun of the fact that some people may have a hard time taking him seriously because he’s such a kid at heart, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. He said to me, “The trick to getting their attention is that you have to be one of them. You make them play your game, so while it’s still fun for them, they’re under your control”. I guess I’ve always been more of the disciplinary one. I try to befriend them, but when there is more than two kids that I have to deal with, the only way that I know works is through stern warnings.
I’ve been reading “Blue Like Jazz” for a while, and today I read a part about how a non-Christian came to believe because she started to relate to God as an actual companion rather than a “god”. This is one of the many reasons why Christianity is like none other out there, but it was through that example that I learned that the best way to build a good relationship with anyone is to be able to walk in their shoes. Going to work this morning, I had the mindset that I was going to be one of them today. I tried to keep my positive attitude for as long as I could, and although no one really felt the difference, I’m starting to find a different way to relate to the kids. I yell because I see that other teachers are having a hard time controlling the class, but the kids just see it as an authoritative figure ruling with an iron fist. My energy was drained by sometime mid-afternoon. But I appealed to them and played with them more today than I did any other day. Instead of just sitting on the side, watching them play, I got myself involved in the game. When one of them was giving the teacher a hard time in Mandarin class, I pulled him to the back, had a little chat with him, and tried a more fun/competitive way for him to learn. The kid seemed to like it, because he responded very quickly. Best of all, the method actually worked.
I honestly haven’t been praying as much as I should be, most of my prayers are just shot out at God in my head. But the more I let go of and allow for Him to work, the less burden I feel. I’ve always believed in leading by example, so I figured I’m going to stop trying to tell them what to do, and just do it myself. During worship time, I don’t care if they turn around to look at me when they hear my voice, I don’t care that they cross their arms and sit down at every break (actually, I care very much, because their lack of interest in worship really breaks my heart), I just let myself come before the throne and walk with God.
With the last 3 weeks of camp, I will learn to humble myself and walk WITH the kids, not ahead of them; because when I’m frustrated and hurting, He does the same for me.