What nobody tells you about working at an elementary school

As a middle-school student, one of my BFFs and I both held the coveted position of office TA. A whole class period of stuffing envelopes, calling students out of class with fancy pink slips, and making copies. But it was also a whole class period of getting to listen to the office ladies swap juicy gossip, the occasional free food from office parties we helped set up or from a secretary who was a little too ambitious with her lunch order, and the chance to witness the ins-and-outs of running a school.

However, never did I imagine that I’d one day assume the position of Office Lady. Or School Secretary, if you want to get technical. I recently fell into the job after many a Craigslist deep dive. And boy, am I learning new things. Here’s some stuff no one ever tells you about having a school for a workplace:

You will become immune to crying children, mostly

Before this job, the mere sight of a kid with tears streaming down their face was enough to make my stomach churn. Why were they crying? Who would hurt an innocent child? And of course, if a kid in real distress, I still want to run over there with a box of tissues. But turns out that kids cry a lot, and not always because they’re in pain. Sometimes their eraser is the wrong color. Sometimes they aren’t into gym class. I am sadly less sensitive to the tears of children than I once was.

Ice is the miracle cure

Without the slightest use of hyperbole, I’m comfortable stating that I dole out bags of ice to at least twenty students a day. Probably more to be honest. If there’s a sprain it helps, actually, and if the problem is psycho-somatic, it’s something to do. Non-existent headache? Ice it. Imaginary arm pain? Ice it. The I-forgot-my-homework-blues? Ice it. An actual situation of swelling that warrants ice? Definitely, ice it.

Cupcakes are all around all the time

Everyday is somebody’s birthday when you work at a school full of hundreds of students and dozens of faculty. And that means cupcakes. You try to turn them down because a cupcake a day probably doesn’t work the same way as an apple a day, but when you reach that inevitable midday lull, it’s too tempting to go for that instant sugar rush. Especially when it’s being offered to you by an adorable beaming birthday boy or girl.

The students think you’re a grown-up even if you don’t

The students don’t know that I’m a lost post-grad masquerading as an adult. They think that I’m the real deal. So much so that even though I still get carded at the movies and their parents often think I’m one of their peers, they continue to ask me about my kidsWith lines like “Doesn’t your daughter go here?” or “How many kids do you and your husband have?”

Little do these kids know, I regularly have to ration off my earnings by deciding between stuff like, forking over extra quarters to wash my bedding at the laundromat or finally replacing that sad sliver of bath soap I’ve been attempting to shower with for one week too long.

This wasn’t exactly the position I had in mind when I set out on my job hunt, but I’m two months in and I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s not quite as glamorous as being a secretary on Mad Men, but I get to hang out with hilarious kids during the day and I do my freelance writing at night. In fact, it’s the perfect way to buy time while I work up the courage to apply to graduate school. Until then, it’s a life of daily cupcake consumption. It’s hard to complain about that.

[Image via Fox]

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