Love in Hindsight II

In the first post of this series, I reflected on my teaching career.

Teaching has been a big part of my life, spanning nearly two decades. What I didn’t know back then was how much I was learning about myself as a person and a future parent as I learnt to teach.

Over the years I have met as many different kinds of parents as I have students. Parent teacher interviews always afforded an insight into the children’s personalities, home life and behaviour. It also led to a deeper understanding, at times, leaving me with the saying, ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,’ swirling inside my brain.

These parents came from all walks of life. There were those that had little but provided an abundance of love and support. The type of parents who expected the best from, and for, their child were in abundance. The couldn’t-care-less approach was adopted by the minority.

I saw parents arrive holding their little one’s hand and helping them prepare for the day. They fostered their independence but assisted them if need be. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents arrive early and stand chatting until the bell went-always there to greet their child with a warm hug and a kiss at the end of their day. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents only to willing to help out at school. They were never too busy to lend a hand, listen to reading or applaud their child when they received an award at assembly or sports day. I vowed to be that type of parent.

I saw parents rush their kids to the car, in a hurry to get to that appointment or sports practice. ‘Get in the car, now,’ they’d say through gritted teeth. I vowed not to be that type of parent.

I saw grandparents bring their children’s children to school every day of the week. Some of their circumstances necessitated this, of that I was sure. I vowed not to be that type of parent as long as I could help it.

I saw parents ‘drag their kids up’ rather than raise them, some showing their children that they were a burden rather than a privilege. I vowed not to be that type of parent.

I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be.

Like most non-parents I stood in judgment of all other parents, keeping my thoughts to myself. Somehow I was of the conclusion that my teaching degree gave me an understanding of children that non-teaching parents didn’t have.

So here I sit, with two gorgeous boys who are now 6 and 3.

All I can say now is….

as they continue to grow, the more I need to know.

And I still have visions of the type of parent I want to become.

To be continued.

Image from: here.

Love in Hindsight

Imagine if you could, just for a moment, the kind of parent you imagined you’d be, merging perfectly with the parent you’ve become. Do I hear guffaws of laughter from those of you who think that’s hilarious?

Through my 20’s, which was also the beginning of my teaching career, I thought I had a good handle on the concept of parenting.

On my very first day, I had a class of 5 year olds who came in with saucer-like eyes. They stole glances at me; this newbie who hadn’t a clue what was about to occur. Just as a predator can smell fear, I am certain that they could sense mine.

Primary school pupils during a lesson becoming the parent you thought you'd be graduates first days of teaching As the bell rang, most of the children made their way to the floor as a mother entered with her son. She seemed flustered as the boy eyed me from his latched position on her leg. She said she was going to be late for an appointment and needed to leave. Being fresh as a spring daisy, I tried to utilise my limited arsenal to encourage him to join his classmates on the mat.

Holding out my hand, he clung even tighter while his mum detached him and thrust his arm out to me. With his tiny wrist surrounded by my hand, he kicked at my shins and screamed blasphemous words that would put a drunken sailor to shame. The mum had turned on her heel already and I wasn’t far behind. I closed that door behind me with trembling hands and tears of failure streamed down my face as I made my way down the corridor to the principal’s office.

Thousands of children, all with different personalities, quirks and backgrounds have since crossed the threshold into the classrooms in various schools where I have practised my craft. Now, I also have children of my own.

All of these children came through doorways paid for by the government. Some of these entrances were in need of a new coat of paint, some doors were bearers of scars from fists, chair legs and other implements randomly thrown. Others displayed pride, colourfully decorated with art work, welcoming anyone who would step through. Perhaps the posters and drawings just covered up any harm that had been done to the surface.

I, too, bear the scars. There are physical ones you can see. Scratches on my hands, my skin dug at so deeply that as I age they become whiter; a constant reminder of my journey. There are emotional ones etched on my heart that only I can feel. True stories of children who awoke each school morning top-to-toe with their brother in the back seat of the family car. Tummies rumbling at a quarter to nine was as common as the unwashed uniforms and tousled hair. Children who had lost a parent through accident, illness or an horrendous tragedy. The communities that grieved for a student lost, much too young to be with us no more.

Ten years of teaching, before my first son was conceived, and these children helped me to learn more than I probably taught them.

To be continued.

Image from: here.