Each year on the last day of school, I take a vacation day to host a pool party for my boys and their friends. As we plan for this day it is full of excitement and ideas. And then the day arrives and the stress sets in! Soon there will be 10 screaming 2nd graders jumping, splashing, squealing and leaving a mess everywhere. I start to wonder if I can truly keep my eyes on each of them while cooking hotdogs and hanging up soggy towels. As the last child is picked up, I am relieved. While in my mind I am overwhelmed and exhausted, all the kids want to know when they leave is if they are invited back next year. I was left questioning how they could have so much fun when I felt like I had provided anything but fun.
Then a few days ago I walked into the playroom at the Nursery and at first glance all I saw was complete chaos. But as I stood there and observed and then started to play with a few busy boys, it dawned on me that our staff was in complete control. While in their minds they were counting kids, applying sunscreen and checking to ensure everyone had a dry diaper, the children were laughing, engaging and excited to head outside to play.
It was in that moment that I realized that there is such a difference between normal day to day stress of being responsible for children and the toxic stress that many of our families live in on a daily basis. While in an environment like a pool party or a day at the Nursery, they are being kids. The world revolves around them and they simply do not acknowledge or feel impacted by the normal stress we as adults are enduring.
As I have such a simple revelation, I am grateful for the opportunity we have to allow kids to simply be kids; no expectations! While kids are at the Nursery for a few hours or a few days, they see life in a much different way. These are the happy memories they will remember for a lifetime.
Amy Knapton, MSW