“How could her son be in Special Ed, she is a principal of the gifted program?” I, (in my naivety),was quick to judge this woman, who had probably done all she could to help her child. I assumed that because she was an educator, that her children should be, not just smart, but supersmart! Able to leap academic standards in a single bound because Mom was a TEACHER! How many times, before I had my own kids, did I judge teacher-parent kids (Pssstt…did you know her Mom’s a teacher?)
Fast forward, and children of my own, and my view has changed drastically! I have come to realize that being a teacher-parent doesn’t make your child different from anyone else’s. An educator’s child can suffer the same pitfalls as everyone else’s. There is no magic teacher dust that you sprinkle on them at birth that makes them immune to what life has to offer.
My youngest has been struggling since he was in preschool. He wasn’t the best behaved child. He’s wasn’t the “disrespectful, foul-mouthed, fighting child”, he was the “can’t keep his butt in the seat, trying to make people laugh” kind of child. The year I had him in the same school where I was a new teacher, another teacher saw him walking with me and said, “That’s YOUR child?” He was only in the first grade. I have to admit, I was embarrassed, even more so because I was a teacher. I expect so much from other people’s children, and mine was not behaving, what was wrong with me? I was a teacher, damn it!
Every year was a struggle with him. I never made excuses or tried to have him wiggle out of consequences. Every year, when his teachers found out I was a teacher, he would hear, “And your mother’s a teacher?”
I would sit him down and say the same thing, “M, I’m a teacher, this is what I expect from my students. This is what I need from you when you go to school. Do you know how embarrassing it is for me to be a teacher and you behave this way?” I don’t think it mattered to him as much as it mattered to me. I was the only one embarrassed when I sat down at parent-teacher conferences and felt I was being judged.
He’s a teenager now, and is no longer that child. I stopped getting phone calls and emails a long time ago. But he’s not where I want him to be academically. I guess, I don’t believe he is where I think a teacher’s child should be. I find myself thinking back and wondering if I spent enough time with him? Did I spend more time worrying about other people’s children then my own? Did I place an unfair burden on him being the child of an educator, wanting more? What strategy could I have used that would have produced a different effect?
My husband assures me that I am a great parent, and that I did all that could be done for him, teacher or not. I wish I could believe him. After all, I’m a teacher, shouldn’t I expect more?