By Morgan Starr from Rookie Mommy Raising Boys
Teaching is actually a lot like parenting. When I was about to bring my firstborn son into the world, I felt totally unprepared, but what I didn’t realize is that teaching high schoolers would prepare me for being a parent more than I knew.
- You’ve already perfected the teacher voice. If you’re going to survive in the classroom, you quickly learn that you need to have the teacher voice down pat. You’ve even learned all of your students’ first and middle names after taking attendance every single day and entering all of their grades into your gradebook. They’ll have a look of pure shock when you get all kinds of aggressive and throw out their first and middle name when scolding. They’ll also probably say, “You sound exactly like my mom!” with a look of terror on their face. Yes, that’s because the teacher voice and the mom voice are the exact same thing.
- You encounter some pretty gross situations. When you’re with a classroom full of kids all day, at some point in time, something gross is going to happen (i.e. nose bleeds, vomit). Having kids of your own forces you to get up close and personal with all kinds of nasty situations, but you’ve probably already seen it all at work, so it’ll be nothin’.
- You’ve already let go of your adult sense of humor. You’ll laugh every single time they spout off a quote from your favorite movie. You’ll become savvy to their silly inside jokes and will laugh right along with them. You’ll even giggle when you say something ridiculous and they all burst into hysterical laughter. When you have kids and they’re little, and they “toot” really loudly, you’ll laugh just as hard as they do. When you go out to dinner with your friends sans kids, they won’t understand your stupid jokes. It’s okay, we all go through it.
- You learn the art of bribery. Offering a breakfast of donuts if the whole class gets an ‘A’ on the big test will produce better results than you’d think. Sure, there are the high achievers who want the ‘A’ anyway, but sometimes a little treat can go a long way for those who aren’t as motivated (don’t judge my tactics.). This works extraordinarily well with your own kids.
Me: Toddler, if you eat five more bites of your dinner, I’ll let you watch 37 more episodes of Paw Patrol before your bath.
Toddler: Yes, sir! I suuuuuuure will!
Don’t ask me why he calls me sir. Because I don’t know either.
- You’re used to being sick when they are. Although your own kids are probably a little more up in your face than your students with their germs (hopefully, anyway), if they get sick, you’re not going to be far behind. A student is bound to borrow your pen and then suddenly announce that their stomach hurts and they need to go to the nurse. Likewise, your toddler is bound to smother your face with slobbery kisses and then projectile vomit across the room. I’m pretty sure this is one of Newton’s Laws or something.
- You have a filter. Although the consequences are a little different, both scenarios require you to develop a language filter. When you’re teaching, if you drop a four-letter word, you’re probably going to face an angry parent or principal. When you’re a mom, you’re going to face the consequence of bringing a toddler with the mouth of a sailor out in public. Luckily, you’ve probably already started using phrases like “Oh my golly” and “oh crackers” as replacements for your words of the past, so you’re good to go.
- You know that a bad moment doesn’t mean a bad kid. We all have bad moments, and when you spend as much time with kids as a teacher does, you sometimes see them at their worst. Whether it’s an outburst, a sassy comment, or they talk back, it’s bound to happen to the best of them at some time or another. Your kids will be the same way. One day they’ll help you with all of the chores and will snuggle you and tell you you’re the prettiest mommy there ever was, and then the next moment, they’re bashing their baby brother in the head with a toy truck or screaming at you to leave them alone. As a teacher, you learn to forgive and forget, which you must do as a parent as well.
- You’ve sacrificed for them. If you’ve stayed after school every day to tutor a student who just can’t seem to get it, or if you learned that a student didn’t have money for lunch and you gave her your own, you’ve shown selfless, sacrificial love. This is the same love that you show your kids, although maybe magnified, when you stay up all night rocking them or when you let them eat from your plate and share your drinks (even though they backwash and you have to end up getting a new one. Ew.).
- You care about them and you worry. When the happy, outgoing student comes to school one day and just looks plain sad, you ask them a million questions: Are you okay? What’s wrong? Do you feel okay? Did you get enough sleep? What’s the matter? Are you SURE you’re okay? Positive? Or when a student confides in you about a difficult decision or a struggle they are having, and you just can’t stop worrying, even when you’re at home for the day. That’s when you realize how much you care about these people who aren’t even your own flesh and blood. Heck, you’ve only known them since the beginning of the school year, and you may never even see them again after they graduate, but you become emotionally invested in these kids.
Rookie Mama Musings: This column is published weekly on Thursdays, by Morgan Starr, right here on the Mama Lovejoy blog. Morgan Starr is a mom of three young boys who is embracing the wild ride of motherhood and learning as she goes. She’s a high school English teacher by day and a writer by night, blogging at www.rookiemommyraisingboys.com. You can keep up with her kids’ antics on Facebook and on Twitter. For more information on the Rookie Mama Musings column, please visit the Rookie Mama Musings page. If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to see more from Mama Meditations or from Mama Lovejoy, you can follow Mama Lovejoy on Facebook, or @Mamalovejoy1 on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Periscope.
With your own kids, you’ll feel the same way, only amplified because they’re your kids.