Not to brush up on my ABCs or coloring skills. (Although I could probably use help with both.) I went as a para-educator substitute, a job I started in February. Being a para-sub has been interesting and fun because I get to spend all day working with kids, in all sorts of environments. I usually don't know what I'm getting into or what I'll be doing when I accept a job. It's been a good supplemental income for me, and it's a good job for a writer because when I'm on deadline, I can just not accept any jobs.
But way more important than any money I've made, taking this job has been good for the way I look at life. There's nothing quite like the perspective you get when you spend the day with preschoolers, kindergarteners, with kids who have special needs, or with the people who have chosen to spend their lives helping them.
Nothing makes grumpy author, "I-can't-make-this-work, and the-publishing-industry-sucks-anyway," problems shrink like spoon-feeding a beautiful teenage girl who smiles at you the through the whole meal even though she'll never be able to feed or dress herself, much less date, go to college, or have a family of her own. There's no bad review, hellish edit letter, or rejection, that can't be softened (at least a little bit) when you get a hug from a person you just met, especially when they add, "I've missed you so much!"
It's all about perspective.
With that in mind, here are some lessons I've learned or re-learned in the last few months being a para-sub. I think are pretty applicable to everyone:
There are certainly more, but one big one I like to keep in mind. :Accept people as they are, but be willing to help them achieve more.
Keeping a sense of humor is HUGE.
Brain breaks, Fun-Fridays, and recess are important...no make that VITAL.
Be patient with yourself. Sometimes pushing too hard just makes things worse.
Be patient with other people. Everyone has their own challenges, everyone has to work at their own pace.
Give hugs, often.
Be loyal to your friends.
Sometimes helping isn't really helping. Everyone needs the chance to take pride in what they do for themselves, even if you think you can do it better or faster.
There are a lot of people who have way worse problems than you do, and they're still smiling.