Working with kids: Any idiot can do that right?
Working with kids, It’s the line of work every fucker has an ill informed opinion on. Tell people you work with kids and chances are they’ll tell you how to do your job. I know teachers will feel my pain as I have witnessed them being told time and time again by opinionated douche bags such cod shite wank as how teaching is ‘making learning come alive’ but they have far too many holidays and are no good piss takers who are no less than entirely responsible for the state of the education system.
By some quirk of fate, I’ve somehow slipped the net and have been allowed to work with children of varying ages over the years. It is without a doubt the most infuriating yet rewarding paradox of a job I’ve ever had. I’ve mostly been a youth worker; which involves running projects and activities, exchanges and programmes for da’ youth. Piece of piss right? Wrong. May I invite you darlings to attempt to persuade hooded youth who proclaim to be “Gangstaz innit braaap”, not to burn out that Fiesta but instead to participate in a community bike ride. It’s a fucking hard sell that’s what it is. There’s an Apprentice task for you Lord Sugar.
People don’t really understand what I do and that’s largely because I don’t really understand what it is exactly that I do. As a youth and community worker you are not a teacher, a social worker, a parent or indeed ‘the filth’, ergo, you can’t make these kids do anything. You have to use a combination of Jedi mind control and general bamboozlement to persuade kids that kayaking is like way more fun than crack yeah?
Now don’t get me wrong, compared to being chained to a desk, my job is fun. Unlike so many people, I do actually enjoy going to work rather than rocking back and forth in a corner contemplating swallowing a coat hanger just to avoid the office. I get to take willful, irrational, often bat shit crazy teenagers on a range of activities and experiences and learning opportunities, in the hope that you can help them develop into the adults I know they can be. The problem for me has rarely been the kids I work with, more the so-called adults around them. Adults, who I’ve witnessed, neglect these kids, abuse them, let them down, or sometimes just plain don’t give a shit. It’s an actual nightmare to convince a kid that you aren’t just another useless adult who views them as an annoyance, a problem, or a threat. My job generally involves coaxing wayward teenagers to believe that they matter, their voice is being heard and you want to help them, even when they don’t always what to help themselves.
People are generally unsatisfied with this explanation and I have been offered all sorts of sage advice and frankly laughable opinions on the subject of my job over the years. I can’t imagine what possesses people? I would hardly tell an accountant how do their job, “Add column A to column B and then repeatedly slam your face into a wall in despair.
I’ve had people look down on what I do; which I can handle, what drives me wild is when people look down on the kids I work with. These are the clueless morons who tell me the kids I work with are “Underclass”, “Scum” and “Not worth it”. How on earth can we expect kids to learn to ‘respect their elders’ when this is the respect they get back? I’m not naïve, yes darlings there are bad kids out there, but then there are also equally bad adults sweet cheeks. The difference being that many of them get to put on a suit and call themselves a stock broker.
I’ve even been impolitely informed that these kids need a “firm hand”, what in the name of Thor does that even mean? That sounds like the sort of thing that gets you swiftly placed on a register. Other pearls of wisdom include “They should all be locked up”, “Send them all to Afghanistan”, “Bring back the cane”. When people aren’t lifting their diatribes straight out of the Daily Mail they will also be informing you that should get a “real job” or there is “No progression” in what you do.
I for one would be prepared to take your opinions more seriously if you were to dismount your high horse and actually experience an area of work you claim to have such an in depth and specialised knowledge of. Why not take some time out of your ‘real job’ and come and show me how it’s done? Let’s do out-reach work together and try and engage with and help the hard to reach youth, the poor, the disenfranchised, the drug takers, the jobless, the violent and unpredictable ones. I thought not.
Now pumpkins, for all my wild hyperbole it’s not all an outtake from Shameless fear not. I’ve met some amazing kids over the years that have taken it upon themselves to look after me, as I am, according to 15 year olds, “too ridiculous to exist”. I do like to teach the youth responsibility and what better way to learn than look after a ludicrous adult I ask?
In fact, I am more than happy to accept constructive criticism and a general curiosity about what it is I do, I will frankly provide all the information you require in exchange for a latte and a cookie. All I ask is a slither of understanding on your part, if it’s not too much trouble dumplings. Understand that it’s hard to quantify what effect you have on kids and whether you are really helping them. Kids aren’t a financial product; you can’t pull up a spreadsheet and demonstrate that due to Dwayne’s recent NVQ in ‘MCing’ his stock has gone up by 165.07 points. I’m surely not the only youth worker lying awake at night, drinking Lambrini out the bottle, crippled by self-doubt at my effectiveness. All I can do is try and help kids in my own misguided way and pray to Thor I don’t cock it up along the way. To the haters, I extend an invitation, show me how it’s done then. I eagerly await your wisdom.