I’ve learned many things since my children have started school, like the process of photosynthesis and the history of colonial times. But in the several years since my kids entered nursery and grade school, no lesson has resonated more than this… I could never be a teacher. There are just fundamental differences between the human being I am and teachers. Here’s what I mean:
Every morning, by the time I finish waking, dressing, feeding, packing and driving my 4 little ones to their classes, I don’t want to see children again for a few hours. I do miss them while they’re at school and I love coming to pick them up when the day is done, but in the hours between I am grateful to be child free. But not teachers. They really actually want our children all day! They want to be surrounded by lots of them and they do it with a big smile on their face. And most of them are parents as well, who have just delivered their own children to school. I love my friends’ kids, but I usually only love them for about a half hour. And on the days I have my children around me all day non-stop, I start to hit a wall around the 4th hour. I guess I’d do ok if every day were a half day.
I also lack the calm demeanor of teachers. Like when I visit my child’s class and the teacher is reading to the kids in a circle and one kid keeps interrupting, the teacher calmly explains why we need to respect the reader. When one of my kids interrupts me, I really do try the calm approach at first. But after a few times, I’m usually carting a screaming youngster off into a corner and reading through the thunderous sobs coming from the next room while intermittently shouting “STOP” in vain at the top of my lungs. Teachers never have to resort to that.
And even when they’re not in a classroom, my teacher friends are just so much more tolerant than me. Like if I have a playdate with a teacher friend and her kid does something bad, she looks him in the eye and explains what he did and why it’s bad and what the punishment is if it happens again, and then the kid says sorry and it’s all good. When it’s my child, it always seems to end with me shouting “It stops NOW.” It’s usually quite ineffective.
And teachers are genuinely proud of my children’s minor accomplishments. But I just don’t have that kind of appreciation for other kids’ achievements. Like when random grandparents tell me about how their little geniuses read 5 grade levels ahead and have a photographic memory, I tend to roll my eyes. But not teachers! When my 4 year old drew eyebrows on a face, they acted like he was the next Da Vinci.
And teachers’ patience levels are just beyond what mine could ever be. Like, when I do homework with my kids, I start off so well. But when they keep giving wrong answers and then they ask if they can just go play with their i-pad, I get pretty agitated. Once I bit an eraser.
So I accept that no matter how much I unconditionally adore my children, there’s no way I would survive in a classroom with kids all day. And I’m so grateful that there are people who can teach with infinitely more patience and grace than I ever could and who genuinely love what they do. As is often said, teachers who love to teach, teach children who love to learn.
And parents who stink at teaching love sending our children to school!