I'm a mother, which makes me one of the most impactful teachers humans know. Unfortunately, with substantial power and influence, we also have the greatest potential to screw up. Meaning we could either help produce a happy and emotionally empathetic and adjusted human. Or help create the next serial killer.
I knew my job was important. I was the baby of seven, yet I never felt like they had spoiled me. Instead, I bared witness to all the drama and complexity only a large family could foster. Therefore, I knew, from the time I could even imagine having children, I only wanted one. I also had been babysitting neighbor kids (right or wrong, judge those parents, not me) since I was ten years old. I’ve always been protective of other children, and for underdogs, and an overall nurturing nature even as a child. I knew I wanted to be a mother. Choosing only to have one came from an understanding of the responsibility which came with it.
I loved being my daughter’s teacher, but it was a more laborious task than I expected. My mother always said to me that the child will rebel and be harder on the parent they feel most comfortable and secure with. The reasoning behind this is the child doesn’t fear that parent will leave them if they act out, which allows them the ability to safely push against that parent. My mom was a child psychologist and an excellent one. My daughter, Alex, must have felt amazingly comfortable with me because she was an angel for everyone else but was very stubborn with me at times. I had to remember she was hearing the information I was providing, even if it didn’t feel like it. And she was. But it made being in the teacher role less fun.
I taught her more things than I can remember. One example is when I taught her to fish off the Okinawan (Japan) seawall when she was five years old. Another was teaching her all about our solar system, including the planet names, the god or goddess they were named after, their order, and which planet was the hottest (clue: it isn’t Mercury). This last one paid off. She played the narrator in her first-grade play on the solar system. The line for the child who played Mercury was “I’m the hottest planet!”. This bothered Alex, and she corrected the child during rehearsal. I was so proud of her. Mrs. Balwin, the teacher, gently pulled her aside and asked her if she would do her a favor and just let him be the hottest planet and to not saying anything else to him about it. It had upset the boy a great deal as he no longer felt special. My daughter agreed, of course. She was, overall, easy going (with everyone else). However, I was disappointed by the first-grade teacher and her lack of willingness to correct the information in the play. It was bad educating. And I loved this teacher! My only complaint I had of her. Quick note: By passing along my love of space, astronomy, and science, Alex ended up going to space camp five years in a row! She asked for it! This included her last year being spent at Cape Canaveral and officially doing a mission for NASA. Her group also got to sit in the first row of one of the space shuttle briefings, giving them the opportunity to meet and talk to real astronauts afterwards!
Being the parent inherently can make being the teacher to the child fraught with conflict. You understand this if you had to teach your child to drive. I imagine I might have been more relaxed if I was teaching some else’s child. There is something about knowing you are responsible for them and know that now they are not always under your protective care that inflicts horrible anxiety.
I have a knack and love for teaching and mentoring. Even in high school I was doing volunteer work, including being a “buddy” to one kid who was taking part in the Special Olympics. My love of children continued as I ended up playing a second mother role to many of Alex’s friends and helping them out. In my career, I have a reputation as being an excellent mentor. I genuinely get massive satisfaction from helping people and seeing them do well. I’m one of those types that can be happy for others and don’t have an ego if the student surpasses this teacher.
It would be impossible to list all the times, or all the things, where I’ve taught someone something. I’m proud of this. I’m an avid learner of everything and love inflicting this addiction onto others.