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I Was a Big Kid: Giving Others in Daycare Back Rubs

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Looking back the whole idea is rather condescending. Still, I think this would have been the first time I felt like a big kid. At four and three-quarters years old it’s hard to feel grownup; you don’t have enough years behind you. Also at that age you only have about two years of memory. That’s why I felt so incredibly mature and wise when the teacher would pick me to go rub backs.

I attended preschool through kindergarten in a small private school. The two and three year olds actually napped, but the rest of us big kids just rested. We were big enough not to have to nap like the babies. If some of us were resting nicely then we were allowed to go upstairs to where the little ones were sleeping. If some of them weren’t asleep we would proceed to rub their backs until they fell asleep.

I have no recollection of my back ever being rubbed. But then again, a combination of being three and asleep tends to cloud your memories. I imagine it must have felt very nice and reassuring. If you were little and were trying to fall asleep somewhere other than your bed, you might have found it difficult. Having someone rub your back like a parent would was likely very calming. The kids usually did end up asleep. Now in the days of chronic sleep deprivation I wish I would have used my nap time to sleep.

Creeping upstairs like miniature thieves, I remember stopping to listen to the soft sighing snores of sleeping children. Little kids always look so angelic when they’re asleep. Who would ever know that an hour ago they were smearing ketchup and macaroni on their seat mates?

Another notable quality of sleeping children is their smell. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in a daycare. I remember that highly distinct smell. Even now I don’t thi...

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... associated with rest. Even though I was supposed to be awake I often felt myself slipping into a hazy doze.

I’m not sure how the clock learned to control the light. Every time the minute hand would cleave the twelve at three o’clock the room brightened. The cloud of sleep lifted and the new freshness was almost palpable. With a nod from the teacher we quietly made our way around the room to rouse the kids.

After some moments of bewildered eye rubbing and tiny yawns the little kids would stumble off their cots and line up at the door. We big helper kids would then lead the drowsy procession down the stairs to the main playroom. I remember entering that room in triumph. We were finally the big kids to something. I think you really feel older when you have the opportunity to help someone older. We knew that the rest of the school revered us as the big kids we were.
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