Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Perilous Life of the Teacher's Child

I'm not talking about tripping on the piles of papers Daddy brought home to grade.  I'm not even going to mention the germs that Mommy carries home from fixing little fingers on recorders.  Nor will we discuss being brought to evening school events and wondering why all the big kids are staring at you while calling your parent "Mr." or "Mrs." something.  This is something much more sinister...

Don't let me near a group of children.  I will have your unruly munchkins lined up and, and since it's my specialty, singing on pitch, in 2 minutes flat.  Ok, I'll refrain, but damn will I want to. I quasi-humbly suggest here that the teacher mindset infiltrates and undermines your every parenting instinct. And it is not easy to turn off, just because your class has gone home for the day.  The Teacher Stare Of Death? It gets results in restaurants, that's all I'm saying.  As does the "I'm proud of you!" teacher smile.

My poor offspring are having their lives ruined by my students, and not just because their Mommy goes to work to play with other kids all day.  Ooh, a little residual working-mommy guilt just leaked out! My poor older child has noticed a difference, right down to our daily routine...because I have a new ax to grind this year...

I have students who cannot zip coats or tie shoes, well past the acceptable age for assisted zipping and tying. Sometimes there are motor skill-related issues, or developmentally appropriate reasons for these troubles.  And sometimes, the reason is called Mommy always does it for the little 7 year old darlin', so why would he know how to pop a straw in a juice box himself?  Every day I come back from lunch duty with a new "Aw, HELL no!" bouncing around my head.

My goal is simply this:  to abstain from doing as much as possible for my children that they could really do themselves.  My kids need to be able to fend for themselves and know the pride of independence and a job well done, when they themselves are the big elementary students.  My teacher brain is in constant communication with my mommy brain, and it's reminding her that these girls will one day be some other teacher's charge for 8 hours a day.  In other words, that kid who needs everything done for her?  Yeah, that best better NOT be my kid.

Confession time, since my last post felt so darn good: I may be sucking at this goal. I have no idea.  My kids are four and one.  My expertise begins at Kindergarten, and I still refuse to pick up a copy of What to Expect When You're a Bored Worrywort.  I honestly have no clue what Miss M should be able to do for herself by now, and she is just that kind of kid who needs a gentle shove out of every nest..except the one marked "social interaction".  She's good there.   You pick your battles, but the coat and shoes thing seems like a sure bet.  Oh, and my baby can find a paci in ANY bag and pop it happily.  That's gotta count for something, right?

Hopefully.  To give myself a little credit, an example of a semi-recent moment when I was pretty sure I was on the ball:

The scene is a social gathering for preschoolers.  I run into a friend, who is also a teacher.  Every preschooler has at least one parent in the room, and that parent is leaning above him or her, helping move pieces to the correct places on the game board in front of their child.  Every preschooler, except two; my daughter, and my friend's child.  My friend and I are standing away from the table, having set our kids up with a seat and a game, and are now talking school politics and pacifiers. Sodas in hands and babies on hips, we are not concerned that our older children may or may not have just placed their marker on the correct colored square.

I know, shocking.  Sllllaaaacker mommies. 

This is the teacher brain at work;  There's 25 of you and one of me, so I'll give you what you need and you'd better do it yourself from there.  

Surprise! Our children are actively engaged and having fun with the game, all by themselves.
My friend's kid won.  Then they went to get juice boxes.
I did open the straw wrapper.

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