Following my divorce, I was in somewhat of a panic as I job searched. I already had a part-time work from home position, and I was employed at a local school as an after hours helper. However, due to fear and uncertainty, I felt I needed to find more work. While scanning through the classifieds, I came across an ad that sounded interesting. No music skills were required, and the employer was seeking someone who would be able to travel to various daycare facilities in my area and hold music classes with kids.
I called the number and spoke to a woman who informed me that they were holding a group interview at one of the childcare locations near my house.
“Could you come tomorrow and observe our lead music teacher and see if this would be something you would enjoy doing?”
Why not. Back then I would have tamed wild sharks if it meant helping me survive financially.
The next day upon arrival at the location, I was escorted into a classroom where at least ten other adults were standing around waiting to be told what to do. This was at the height of our economic down turn, so jobs were a hot commodity. Some of them looked rather nervous, but I started to notice the cute kids who seemed to range in age from three to four years old. Some of them who made eye contact with me would wave, smile and say,
“Hi,” like they knew me all their life. I returned the smiles and the waves.
The music teacher came in dragging a suitcase behind her and set up in the front of the room.
“Why don’t we have our visiting friends sit down and join us,” she said motioning us to the floor. As I sank to my knees, six children raced over to sit in my lap. This resulted in a moment of pushing and shoving.
“Why don’t you all sit down next to me. That way, we can all see each other,” I suggested. I suddenly had become Mary Poppins without even trying.
The teacher led the class in various songs as she pulled instruments made for preschoolers out of her big bag of tricks.
I joined in with my little tribe as we jumped, twirled and followed all of her instructions. This was the strangest job interview I had ever been apart of, and the most fun. The kids sang and danced as she taught them simple rhythm sounds.
At the end of the class, she handed out stickers to an excited bunch who were so proud to wear them like badges of honor.
For the adults, she handed us pieces of paper and said,
“Now that you have watched a class, if you are interested, return tomorrow at this same time. Read the instructions on the sheet because it will be your turn to teach the kids.”
I went home and found empty toilet paper rolls, filled them with rice, and taped the ends shut to serve as shaker instruments. I practiced my songs and thought of clever things to say to capture my young audience. By the time I went to bed that night, I knew the job was something I would love to do, however, with the crowd that had showed up for the first part of the interview, I wasn’t so sure I would get it. I began to question why I had pursued this in the first place. What had prompted me to do this?
Even with these doubts, I returned the following day ready to take on my competition. Astonishingly, only three of us came back. I noticed that as the kids tried to communicate with one potential prospect, she seemed edgy and uncomfortable. Her answers were high pitched and her eye twitched non-stop.
The minute I sat down on the floor to watch the two other candidates show us their best performance, I was once again surrounded by many little ones longing for attention. When it was my turn, I handed each child a shaker and led them through the various songs. What was once a quiet and solemn room was now a buzzing energetic atmosphere. All the children took my lead as we marched, skipped and hopped on one foot around the room.
I received a phone call later that afternoon with a job offer.
“You impressed the teachers,” my new employer said.
“That is nice to hear. I don’t have any musical talent. I just did what I thought the kids would like.”
“You were the only one who showed up for the job without any music background. Everyone else had their music degree except for you.”
“Really? Why did you hire me if everyone else has experience in this type of thing?”
“We wanted someone that we could train instead of a person who thought they knew it all. And, you related to the kids the best.”
Within the week, I had an official shirt and my own suitcase stuffed with curriculum, instruments and treats. I began by traveling three times a week to three different centers to bang instruments together and bring a little joy to the classrooms. I began to feel like the visiting grandmother as I was always ambushed at the door with excitement when I would show up. I began to notice the reason why this was. The teachers seemed overworked, stressed out and not very present. I am not saying they were not good people. However, the work was long and difficult day after day, and sometimes more than eight hours at a time with a roomful of kids who weren’t always glad to be there.
There were days of brawl like fights and many children who were not obedient. I noticed a glassy look to some of the teachers and assistants eyes as the days wore on. When I stepped into the room, this was their time to check out mentally. I returned home after every session to immediately change and wash my clothing. Sickness was prevalent and my own immune system got a work out.
Before going into the facilities, I would spend a few moments in my car in the parking lot praying. I would ask God to accompany me so that every child would feel the love of heaven. I was not able to speak of anything faith related so this was my only way of injecting it into the situation. It proved to be working because I was the most popular person to walk through the halls. Kids would see me and practically fall over themselves to grab me around the kneecaps or to hang off of me like monkeys on a tree.
A few months into this, I was in a classroom with four year olds talking to them about the body’s five senses. At this age, kids love the idea that they know more than adults.
“What do you do with your ears? Do you smell with them?” I asked.
“NO!”they yelled back at me.
“Do you touch things with your ears?”
“I bet you guys eat with your ears!”
“NO we don’t!”
“Then what do you do with your ears?”
“We hear with them!”
“Oh! That’s right. We hear things with them. What do you hear?”
“My mom tells me she loves me in my ear.”
“My dad says I am good at coloring.”
“I hear dogs bark.”
As they shouted out answers, I made sure that they knew that their responses were the best I had ever heard.
When the excitement began to die down, a little blonde boy with brillant blue eyes said,
“I hear God talking to me with my ears.”
When he said this, the adult workers near him began to laugh, which in turn made all the kids giggle. I saw him quickly put his head down to look at his lap. It wasn’t difficult to see the embarrassment and that he was the subject of ridicule at a tender age.
“Hey. You know what?” He looked up at me. “If God is talking to you, then I would keep on listening. That is very important.”
The minute I spoke those words it was like a hush came over the room. The two young teachers now put their heads down as I continued.
“Not everyone would be able to say that, so that is about the most special thing I have heard here today.”
Of course, not to be outdone, others began to shout,
“God talks to me too!”
I again looked straight at him and said,
“If God is talking to you, then I would keep on listening. He might have something very good to tell you.”
His little smile beamed. It was one of the only times that I was able to openly discuss God, but it was a sign to me that nothing can keep the divine from invading a place even if it is forbidden.
As we approach a brand new year, take some quiet time for yourself. People make resolutions one week and fail them the next. What I have found is that if I sit down with a pad of paper and make myself available for instruction, words begin to come that bring insight and revelation. Instead of struggling to figure out what you should do next or how you should solve that problem that seems to persist, give God a crack at it. You will be surprised at what you will hear. It could very well be music to your ears.
(Image courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)