If there’s one thing university has taught me, it’s that growing up means officially leaving your childhood behind—but it doesn’t have to be that way.
The classes we take are overshadowed by the fear of GPAs deflating. The parties we attend are dimmed by the insecurities of choosing the perfect outfit. The clubs we join aren’t for our enjoyment; they’re the ultimate resume boosters for grad school.
Nothing is pure anymore. Nothing can be taken at surface level. Everything has an ulterior motive. Let’s go back in time.
Last spring, I worked as a tutor in an elementary school. I was there seven hours a day, 35 hours a week. For those two months after the second semester finished, I had the most unexpected yet enlightening experience of my life. It taught me the value of reconnecting with your childhood.
My mom, an elementary school principal, told me about the job. At first, I had zero interest. But, as a university student looking for a steady summer job, it was appealing. Eager to start making money, I left Kingston—with final assignments left on my plate—to work.
My first day at the school, I completed all the necessary training required by the board. After that, I got to make my own schedule. I helped in whichever classroom I wanted and made myself known to all the teachers who needed extra support in their classroom.
I ran one-on-one tutoring sessions for students who needed it, made colourful bulletin boards around the school, and did random tasks whenever they were needed.
Working in the school made me realize how much I like working with kids, and how much being in university makes you forget about the raw bliss of being an unbothered child. I learned that working with children is a top-tier way to find closure to your childhood.
Photo: Curtis Heinzl
In other words, I want to go back to elementary school.
I connected with these kids and gained an appreciation for everyone who works with them. I’ll never forget the kindergarteners hugging me at the end of the day, telling me “I love you” and giving me abstract drawings. These gestures were the ultimate ode to what childhood is all about.
Thinking about it now, I realize teachers experience this every day as they genuinely shape the next generation of the world.
Good teachers influence our lives by sharing their knowledge and motivating us to pursue our goals and never give up. They work nonstop every day to make sure we succeed. Still feeling like a child myself, I look up to my favourite professors in the same way I did to my grade-school teachers.
During my summer work, I went into the staff room at lunchtime and sat with the teachers. We chatted about what program I was in, what I planned on doing in the future, and if I was considering being a teacher after working at a school.
I would always say, “I love it here, but I don’t see myself being a teacher in the future.”
I don’t want to be a teacher. I value, respect, and appreciate everyone working in education, but it’s just not for me—I don’t have the patience or ability to always stay calm, cool, and collected.
Yet, playing the role of teacher to the kids I got to know and love was rewarding beyond words. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
I want to work with kids in my spare time. I want to volunteer with them when I come home from university. I want to work with them to make me forget about growing up, but also to help progress their minds and mentalities.
I see myself in a role where I can be intellectually challenged and vocal. But I also want to take advantage of any opportunity to work with children when I’m still young myself.
Remembering your childhood is essential. When we forget it, we’re making a passive choice to move on and just be an adult. It’s essential to grow up at some point, but it’s nice to be in this awkward in-between of being a child and an adult.
Sometimes, getting in touch with your inner child is exactly what you need to remember who you once were before your mind was scathed by the real world.
Working in such a fantastic school reminded me that I’m not young, but I’m not old, either. Thinking about jumping into a career as a lawyer, businesswoman, or consultant is scary, so knowing I can always go back to a school and volunteer with children grounds me.
If you’re at the end of your adolescence, your experience doesn’t have to be the way society constructs it to be. Instead, let it be a playground for adults; let it be the happy in-between that bridges the gap between elementary school and university.
Teach swim lessons in your spare time. Babysit on the weekends. You don’t have to leave your childhood behind.
adulthood, career, childhood, Teacher
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