I've never considered myself to be a person that is "good with children." I got CPR-certified at age 11 so I could babysit, but I don't think I was a very good babysitter. The families that never hired me a second time would probably agree. Not that I was bad with children, I just ... didn't understand how to interact with them. Even as a kid I didn't interact well with kids.
I've always been scared of the idea of having children of my own. I am afraid I won't know how to interact with them. I'm afraid I won't know what they want or how to make them happy, that I'll say or do the wrong things and they'll grow up to be bad people. I'm afraid that I won't know how to deal with them if they have behavioral problems.
I could say this whole thing is Future Allie's problem, but let's be honest. Future Allie is probably still freaked.
Last week, my church hosted a summer Vacation Bible School for kids from pre-K to fifth grades, and I volunteered to help. I was assigned to be the recreation leader, so I spent the week leading the kids in rousing games of Follow the Leader and Jesus-Jesus-John the Baptist (Duck-Duck-Goose). I think, objectively, I did a decent job; I enjoyed playing games with the kids, and I felt like I became more comfortable as the week went on and I figured out what to expect and how to plan activities around the kids' capabilities.
My friend Katherine is a kindergarten teacher, and she was also helping out with the very youngest children. And oh goodness, seeing her in action with those kids ... she was amazing. Some of the tricks she used to get them to be quiet — Simon Says!? — I would have never thought to do. Watching her helped me become more comfortable with all the groups of kids, because I could see how they reacted when she spoke to them in ways they could understand. I never had any little cousins or babies in my family, and I never learned how one should interact with them. It was eye-opening.
I think it's going to be a long time before I'm totally comfortable with kids, but with several friends becoming new mommas in the next few months, I hope that it gets easier as I continue interacting with little ones. I've heard ease comes with experience, and I hope that's the truth.