Am I a weirdo for liking to hang out for little kids?

Both jobs I work (Crossing Guard, Score! tutor) involve working with young children. A few years ago I couldn’t fathom spending several hours each day with a clutch of hyperactive, loud larvae with microscopic attention spans, but I’ve found working with kids is a really rewarding thing.

When I talk to my friends, it seems like they don’t really take me seriously about my work (mainly a tutor at Score!). This, I suppose, is because there is apparently some stigma about a man enjoying the company of little kids. I can’t have one conversation without someone bringing up some pedophile joke. This bothers me because my relationship with the children at work is nothing beyond professional and I spend every minute at work making sure nothing I do gets misconstrued as inappropriate.

My job is a minimum-wage part time job which allows me to slowly build a savings and occasionally treat myself to lunch/buy a computer game. Sometimes it can be very stressful when I’m in situations in which it feels like its impossible for me to do anything right. But time and again, there is some moment which makes me reflect on how much I enjoy it. The biggest irony of all is that when I was just 2 years younger, I would never dream of working at a job for minimum wage, or working not so much for money but because ‘its a rewarding experience’. I suppose I’ve been able to slow down a bit and enjoy some of the more simpler joys in life :slight_smile:

Just yesterday I was at McDonald’s for dinner after my shift. I often see Score! members there, as they have dinner after their lessons. Three of them were crowded around my table, asking me a bazillion questions. Now, one of the advantages about enjoying cartoons and many other kid-oriented thing is its a great way to connect with kids. They asked me if I watched Transformers, and I said yes. Man did I suddenly become popular! They then asked me about a bazillion questions about Transformers, which I was able to answer. I’m very well-liked by the children at the center, which makes me feel happy since after I am able to connect to them it is much easier to motivate them.

You don’t sound like a wierdo to me! There are so many children now who grow up with out their fathers in the home. They need positive male roll models. You are doing a wonderful thing by helping the children with their studies and conecting with them on a personal level.

Ignore your friends. I am sure they are just trying to be funny. It is not as common for men to have jobs working with children. It isn’t strange or unheard of though.

I work quite a bit with kids too.

Acceptance is that feeling you get from kids. They accept you readily and easily. It feels great, we all need it.

If you were a wierdo, your kids most likely would have told you so by now.

Dude, one of my best friends is a 17-year-old kid who, though I haven’t seen him lately, used to spend EVERY. DAMN. DAY (and an occasional night on the couch) at my house a couple of years ago (FTR, I always made sure that ONE of his parents–who are divorced–knew where he was).

You think I didn’t get some looks? Hell, my own sister freaked out on me. But overall, I relied primarily on The Truth to be my savior, and decided to fuhgeddabout what anyone else thought (besides his parents–had either one of them thought I was molesting their child, I would have DIED–but they seemed to like and trust me).

That said, I did thank my lucky stars that I am not a MAN–they seem to get a worse rap when it comes to hanging out with kids. I think it’s a case of the (REALLY!) bad ones screwing it up for the good ones (like you). But the next time someone makes a pedophilia joke, ask them what the hell THEY’RE doing to help. I mean, PSAs abound on TV and in the media, encouraging adults to get involved, to mentor a child, to make a difference . . . “Which one were YOU?” the sweet little faces ask in plaintive tones.

Yet when somebody comes along who DOES want to help, everyone else decides he must be a weirdo.

I say screw 'em!

The naysayers, that is–not the kids! :stuck_out_tongue:

For the record (and I hope this doesn’t come off as a NAMBLA endorsement, or anything), what I think is weird is the widely imposed social separation of kids and adults. Sure, I get that there are some instances where a grown-up wants to have a beer, kick back, cuss a little, and talk about “Adult” things with other grown-ups, and when a kid wants to hang out with other kids, doing kid stuff.

But I think the boundaries that get imposed are sometimes a little too thick, so that adults and kids are actually uncomfortable around each other, based solely on age difference, even sometimes within the same family. For example, mom has a 16-year-old great-niece who comes to visit her about once a year and, without fail, my mom will try to pawn her off on ME, because she’s certain that the girl “doesn’t want to hang out with an old lady.” Well, shit, I’m 33 my damn self, and besides, if you ask me, my mom (who is 73) is a hoot and a half, and though I don’t mind entertaining the kid, why would she come visit my mom if she didn’t want to visit my mom?

OK, I’m done now, I swear.

May I suggest that you email a mod to change your thread title to read “with” instead of “for”?

Let’s see, you enjoy hanging out “for” little kids and teaching them how to Score!, naw that’s not weird. :eek: :smiley:
Really though, I think it’s great to see adults enjoy the company of children without acting like they all have some kind of disease.

HAH! Oh, dear. Ditto on that one . . .

I don’t see anything weird in it. I don’t work with kids, but I often enjoy their company–at family gatherings, I’m more prone to hanging out with the younglings than with the other adults. Who else (present company excepted) am I going to talk about cartoons and video games with? And you’re right about popularity–kids go nuts when they find a grown-up who shares some of their interests. Too many adults just brush them off when they try to talk about the things they like. I sometimes worry about how little parental attention kids receive these days (and not just in single-parent homes); I try to make up for it when I can. I like teaching kids little tricks, like how to call fireflies and how to make reed-whistles–things I learned from my father, but they haven’t learned from theirs.

greck, kids have told me I’m weird–but in a nice way. I think the nicest thing a Doper ever said about me was when Bad News Baboon described me as the “penn-and-teller-esque uncle every kid wants”. :slight_smile:

I think another reason I get a kick out of working with kids is because I remember when I was their age. In my neighborhood, there was a college student who used to have water balloon fights and stuff with the neighborhood kids. We all thought he was the coolest person ever- he had all the advantages of being a grownup, but acted like a kid. I think I have sorta become that guy- based on the way kids act around me.

Also positive is being able to show an enormous amount of patience around children. It seems like I’m one of the only ones around who is patent enough to tolerate some behaviors and not crack under pressure. If a member demands a reward which he is not entitled to, I’m not going to give it too him, no matter how much he pesters me. My other coworkers, however, will cave very quickly. This, in my opinion, is bad, because then it establishes that the child can get what they want if they’re annoying enough.

One problem with some members at Score! is they are only there for the rewards. See, we have a reward system involving these little magnets. Kids earn magnets by doing well in lessons, and they can save them up to trade in for prizes. A super ball is 5 magnets, bedy pencil 15, pack of pokemon cards 200, etc. Unfortunately some members think going to Score! is solely so they can win these things, and the academic aspect is lost. My goal is to try to keep them on target. The rewards are an incentive, but I don’t want it to eclipse the real goal- establish a love of learning (Score’s mission).

Its a fine line between ‘fun grownup who knows a lot about cartoons’ and ‘the mean big man that makes us do long division’. I can’t be so laid back they don’t take me seriously. But the good news is that many of the members who are familiar with me know I mean business. Their purpose at Score! is to be assisted with schoolwork, and my purpose there is to facilitate that. Perhaps I go above and beyond for such a meager occupation, but its a job that is mostly emotionally rewarding, as opposed to financially rewarding. I had a serious selfish streak when I was a teenager; I felt I didn’t owe the world anything and thought people who did things like social work were suckers and doormats for abuse. Now I realize how short-sighted I was- I guess it takes some people a while to see how fulfilling helping others is. Since those years, I’ve basically done a 180 and I lost much of my misanthropy.

I have plenty, feel free to pop around for a cup any time!

As a father of five, I don’t see a problem, and I think you should be encouraged. Like many fathers, I wish I had more time to just play with my kids. The boys’ need is pretty obvious, but the girls need time too. I think one twisted aspect of your society is that it is unusual for a man to pursue a career in a “kid field”, or just playing with kids. As rarely as I get to play football with the neighborhood kids, I’ve never seen another father doing something similar. One or two dads might be out at the park with their own kids, but never with a neighborhood. I’m no Mormon, but I like their ad “It takes a man to be a father.”

We need more men like you.

Well Incubus, I don’t think you’re weird. In fact, I think the continuation of our society depends on the relatively selfless work of people like you.
I think the people who make the “pedophile” jokes are probably doing it out of discomfort. It feels weird to see a man do something so counter to what their idea of masculinity is. Pedophilia is one of the few plausible explanations for you “trespassing” over the boundaries of your gender role, so it naturally enters their mind. Since thinking you are a pedophile, even in a slight, passing way, makes them uncomfortable, they try to defuse it with humor. Of course, if they were smarter, they just wouldn’t say anyhyting along those lines at all, but most people aren’t that socially adept.

Oddly enough, I get some satisfaction out of working out at my local YMCA, which is virtually taken over by the 6-18-year-old set. Part of it comes from showing off. I’m big and strong, and outlift virtually everyone else when I’m there. I also am the only person there with tattoos 99% of the time. (It’s a really whitebread community). And everytime I see some 13-year-old boy staring with ill-disguised lust at the advanced aerobics class, I get a little more perspective on my own life.
Now I realize kids have a freshness and energy that no one else has. Being around them makes me feel younger, and I am far more comfortable around children of any age now than when I first joined the club.

You should be applauded, Incubus. It’s absurd that men who like spending time with children are considered abnormal. Boys and girls both really benefit from spending time with men as well as women. As a grown woman, I’ve realized how much my dad and my uncles–great guys all–influenced my perception of how men should act. My girlfriends who grew up in homes without men were much more likely to get involved in relationships with creeps or jerks.

Incubus: I too like hanging out with kids. In fact, I like them better than adults. I teach high school and I infinitely prefer the company of my students to the company of my peers. They’re much more honest, open to new ideas, and less preoccupied with bullshit.

The karate class I’m taking now is composed almost entirely of little kids age 6-10. We talk about all kinds of kids stuff and they think I’m cool b/c I don’t talk to them like they’re subhuman demi-idiots. Kids, like all other people, appreciate a person who’s real with them. If kids like you and you like them, chances are you’re pretty real too. Is there a higher compliment than that?

I don’t know how old you are, but women tend to find guys who are good with kids very sexy. My friend who was in love with our karate teacher found his patience with the kids, his lack of condescension, and goofy humor more of a turn on than Spanish Fly. So I bet it’s your guy friends who tease you about this, right? Screw 'em. You’re all right.

You sound like a cool guy, Incubus. It’s a wonderful thing to be appreciated by kids.

Something in your post reminded me of my late father. (For some reason I keep bringing him up a lot lately.) When I was a kid, it seemed like a lot of my friends loved my dad. He included them on our family outings. We did geeky (but beautiful) things like driving out to see the California poppies. (Just to see flowers! Imagine that!) But my friends loved it. And I guess there was something so “accepting” about him. I don’t know, but he was much loved.

My heart was warmed after meeting up with an old childhood friend a few years ago. Too long to go into here, but the old friend’s parents and my parents had a semi “falling out” ages ago so we’ve basically lost touch. But I happened to cross paths with this old friend, a guy. I was suprised at how his eyes lit up when he was remembering my dad. I had no idea what an impact my dad had on this guy. Especially considering that this guy’s dad was still alive and they seemed to get along OK. His dad is charming, but also formidable. My dad was fun and easy to get along with in comparison.

This old childhood friend had such a look of awe and respect in his face when he talked about my late father. While I’m sure he loved his own dad, it wasn’t the same, because his dad was a hard taskmaster. (I remember this guy spanking his kids HARD because they only got a “C” grade in certain subjects.) My dad was the opposite of that. I think this guy got some much-needed simple “fatherly acceptance” from my dad that he was unable to get from his own father, and he obviously hadn’t forgotten it.

Sorry, I get a little maudlin. The point I’m trying to make is, you just don’t know what kind of profound impact you have on these kids. You are doing an important thing, and it will not be forgotten by many of these kids.

I’ve never been particularly fond of children, but for some reason, they seem to love me.

It really comes in handy, because I’m a tour guide at a museum. On field-trip days, a group of twenty or so bored kids will be entrusted to my care, and ususally, by the end of the tour, they’re having a great time, and asking me lots of questions.

I suppose it’s because I tailor the tour to things that kids would find intersting . . . emphasising the “gross” details of living 200 years ago, such as chamber pots and infrequent bathing, rather than a dry recitation of dates and names.

I’ve even gotten “fan mail” from some of these kids.

Nevertheless, whenever I’m one-on-one with a child, I feel incredibly awkward, but they never seem to notice.

My husband loves little kids. He’s an excellent Daddy to our daughter at 13, but he was AWESOME when she was between 1 and 5. There’s just something about kids that age that tickles the hell out of him, and he thoroughly enjoys 'em at that age. So naturally he’s everyone’s favorite uncle, and all of my daughter’s friends adore him too. He’s the “cool dad.”

BUT. I cannot take this man to a mall anymore. He doesn’t want to go into the “trendyhip” stores with our daughter, and he doesn’t want to go into the candle or clothing stores with me, so he sits in the old folks’ gazebo in the middle of the mall and waits for us. And every time I come out of a store, there he sits, with this goofy-ass smile on his face, gazing adoringly at some little kid (usually a toddler-sized person.) I know his mind, and I know he’s just remembering our daughter at that age and how much fun she was, or thinking about how doggone cute little kids are in general, but that goofy-ass smile is going to get him arrested some day, I just know it.

It’s a shame, really, but somewhat understandable that we tend to be suspicious of friendly smiling guys looking at our kids.

Kids really seem to like me…

I went on a field trip with my 5 year old daughter last week and when they told the kids what adult they were paired with, the little guys who got me were whooping and hollering and giving each other high fives. I’ve known most of these guys since they were babies.

At Sabbath school there were a few little ones who really seemed to adore me and would come running into my arms when I came through the door.

If babies are fussing people have no problem handing them off to me and within minutes I can have them calmed down and happy.

My nephews tell me that I am the world’s greatest uncle and will recall things we did when they were little that even I had forgotten. I used to see them every day and would “kidnap” them to take them on road trips in the car and when they were older, on my motorcycle.

I am powerless in the presence of babies and used to babysit on the weekends so my friends could go out. I’ve had them call me late at night to ask if I could come over and help them get their babies settled down when they were fussing because I seem to have some kind of magical calming effect on them. Quite often the problem is, once I pick them up they do not want to be put down or given back to their parents.

Our youngest daughter is certifiable “daddy’s girl” and likes to fall asleep in my arms whenever possible. I am like a human couch for her.

I have tried to figure out why they like me so much… maybe it’s because I’m still a big kid at heart and because they know I like them too.

My dad is the same way. Crying babies fall asleep instantly when he holds them.

Rubystreak is right. Many women find it incredibly attractive when guys like kids. When, on our first date, my SO told me he did volunteer work at an elementary school, I melted.