Babies, Don’t Let Your Mamas Grow Up to be Teachers
By Aleta Fera
I got pregnant the first year of my career. If you remember the first year of your career, you’ll likely remember a lot of faking confidence and a fair amount of crying when you were alone. But the great thing about having a kid early in my career as a high school teacher is that it accelerated me through the learning that is necessary in teaching. I often say that having a kid made me a better teacher, and I could go on at length about how being a mom is the best career move I ever made.
This is not that article.
No, this article is the other side of the coin. So, it turns out that the benefits only flow one direction, and that teaching makes me a worse parent.
Without further ado, let’s plunge into the highlights of why teaching has made me a bad mom.
- I hate homework. You think you hate homework? I really hate homework. Most parents hate it because they don’t feel equipped to help their kids. I hate it because it’s like pulling an extra shift for free. I really try to be patient with Blake, but sometimes I used up all the patience on someone else’s kid.
- I never volunteer to help as an adult leader. I don’t teach Sunday School, I don’t do the training to be a Scout leader, and except for a short stint as Children’s Choir director, I don’t take on responsibility that involves my kids. I love the activities my kids do, and it’s not that I don’t like groups of children, but come on. Maybe someone else can pitch in; somebody who doesn’t spend her lunch hours getting teenagers to throw away ketchup-covered garbage.
- I don’t go on fun vacations. I like to learn things when I travel, so most of my trips involve historical forts or museums. I have never been on a cruise, an all-inclusive vacation or even Great Wolf Lodge. I wasn’t the one to take Blake to Disney; that was my parents who aren’t teachers and therefore know how to have fun. (For the record, they took me to a lot of museums and forts as a kid, and we only did things like Disney a few times.)
- I make my kids come to protests. Instead of shielding my kids from confusing political situations, I treat them like a learning experience. During this year’s labour unrest, my baby girl went to more protests than most of my colleagues.
- I never take them out of school for a vacation. I may have summers off, but I also have zero flexibility around vacation time. This means that summers are fantastic, but winters are deadly
- Take your kid to work day really sucks. Or, it will. Maybe I’ll send him with my wild brother, who is a personal trainer, rock drummer and part-time bouncer.
- I don’t rage against the educational machine. Other parents carefully select schools for demographics (cough*white flight*cough), I figure one’s as good as the next. (I also don’t have a problem with my son being in the white minority, but that’s another article entirely.) Blake’s best friend is moving to another school because he has a problem with the teacher; Blake has been having problems with this teacher all year but I somehow feel like the other teacher is a colleague and has to be treated with professional courtesy. On the other hand:
- I judge their teaching by my own. This means I will accept zero excuses for laziness or bad classroom management. My kid won’t go down to the office? Then get the principal to walk him down; that’s what I do. Do not be calling me during the day to solve my kid’s behavioural issues when I have 100 Blakes of my own to deal with. I also re-write homework assignments for clarity, which drives everyone crazy.
- I know how to read a report card. There’s nothing worse than a parent you can’t fake out. I can decode edu-jargon and turn, “Blake needs to remove himself from distractions” into “Blake never stops talking,” and follow up with the poor kid accordingly.
It could be worse. My friend Stacy not only has teachers for parents, she had her mom as her Grade 9 gym teacher. She was told to refer to her own mom as Mrs. King, so there would be no sign of favouritism (even though everyone knew, of course).
One day her teacher asked where her gym clothes were. The answer? “My mom forgot to wash them.”
Aleta Fera makes hundreds of kids happy and three kids miserable. She writes about her journey as the World’s Worst (Student) Teacher at Further Adventures of Rocketbride.