My first job was back to school!
I graduated in 1983 and until the exam results were out, I was at a loose end, but impatient to get a job. As a single parent, I’d seen my Mother struggle to make ends meet. She was a school teacher who taught at a school from 7 am to 1 pm, then traveled to another school to work the afternoon shift until 5 pm. Then, she visited our neighbor’s house to tutor their highschool daughter. By the time she returned home it was close to 8 pm. This was followed by a hurried dinner, taking care of school work if she had brought any home, getting ready for the next day and bed. She was exhausted by the time her day ended.
While I earned a little cash tutoring a high school kid in French, English and Science and also went to college on a merit scholarship for poor students, I couldn’t wait to get a full time job and make Mom’s life easier. Of course I secretly dreamed of being a rock star – and my Mom secretly believed I was one, although her perception of the phrase was different. I also had lofty visuals of a very successful me doing great things and naturally, changing the world and making it a better place. Naturally.
And so, when one of Mom’s colleagues had to take a 3-month sabbatical to study for her exams, she requested me to stand in for her. I was skeptical. Never saw myself as a school teacher. A guest speaker occasionally, perhaps, but settling into the routine of a school teacher? Not. My Mom, however, managed to emotionally blackmail me by pointing out how I’d be really helping her friend out and I reluctantly agreed.
Back To School
Thus I got my first job. As a Lower Kinder Garten school teacher. I believe nothing in life comes without its perks, no matter how tough we assume it to be. This job was no exception. I love kids. I had four hours and a class of 40 cuties for company and most of them spent half their time cuddling up and filling my ears with babytalk or asking hilarious questions – all in Gujarati, a language I barely knew. They also insisted I share their lunch, a little box of dry fruits!
I remember my first day vividly, all dressed up in a cotton starched saree and being introduced to my class. I had a hard time not laughing at the 40 cherubic faces looking at me in anticipation, and after the Principal left, talking all at once.
Besides the babysitting – that’s what it really was – what else does one do with 4-5 year olds? – I also organized activities to keep them engaged. Coloring, playing, and, hold your breath, home work. I also taught them the alphabet, which was in the syllabus. They loved to wash their hands – which meant playing in the water. I often had to clean them up after their out of class activities and that included potty. And no, nobody wore diapers. They invariably informed me after they were done – in their seats in the classroom. The thought of that still brings on a huge grin.
Other perks of the job?
Commuting with Mom.
Spending a lot of time laughing, talking, window-shopping.
Eating lunch together.
It was absolutely wonderful.
Since she taught the higher grades, her day ended at 2.30 pm, while mine was done by 12. I filled the time until she finished by helping out with other classes whenever a teacher was absent, or shopping for the library, or taking care of school trips and escorting students who had to go out representing the school on some activity or competition.
Oh yeah, I also indulged in drawing on the chalkboard! It is like bubble wrap you know. Irresistible. (Yes, I have a black board and a white board at home!)
I loved Saturdays, when we worked half-days. The Kinder Garten wound up at 10.30 while the rest of the school worked until 12. After that, we would eat lunch, and sometimes stay on to finish school work, or leave. We’d walk around the area, looking at the shops, coveting sarees and wrapping up with cone icecreams at a particular shop. Aavin Dairy Kiosks made the best cones for Rs.1 each!
We’d return home by 3.30 – 4 and have coffee together.
Then I’d regale my Grandma with my stories for the day.
And thus the three month stint sped by. I was almost sad when the teacher returned after her exams. In fact, the school was kind enough to offer me a full-time job. Tempting as it was, I chose not to accept.
I learned a lot during those three months. Being a school teacher, especially to pre-schoolers is no cakewalk. Keeping them engaged and happy is a challenge.
I am happy to think I started off a couple of systems there, one of which included storing a set of spare clothes and art supplies.
I went on to build my career in the corporate world and did pretty well, quitting in 1997 to get married. Ironically, my last corporate job included Training – Sales and Marketing. Life does come a full circle, or so my Mom loved to say.
Naturally, my first job has a solid place of pride in my heart. It is true that every life experience makes us stronger, and sometimes, wiser. As my Mom oft repeated – spending time with school children is good for the soul. And it is. Because they are little scoops of joy.
I am participating in the Friday Reflections bloghop by Janine Ripper and Mackenzie Glanville and I chose the prompt “My First job” and really enjoyed reminiscing! I admit I had a tough time choosing which prompt to go with – all of them are fabulous.
Here are the prompts for this week:
• Write about your first job.
• Are you a winter, summer, autumn (fall) or spring person?
• Reflect on why it’s important to express gratitude and/or the difference it has made in your life.
• Reflect on the following quote: May your choices reflect your hopes. Not your fears – Nelson Mandela
Join us, please.