26 November 2012

NEWSFLASH: I am not a Mommy.

Sometimes I feel like the world enjoys pointing out the obvious to me.  Today, for example, I had a well-meaning individual observe an interaction I had with a student from a distance of a few hundred feet, and then proceed to suggest how I could improve interactions with students.  "You're not a mom," said the well-meaning advice giver.  "So you don't understand."

This argument drives me nuts.


Because I am not a mommy.  I'm not hired to be a mommy.

Mommies are there for loving and encouraging and seeing the sun shine out of every little part of their child - even the part that poops.  They are wonderful.  I have a particularly great one, actually.  And when I need an emotional boost or a hug or a reminder that I'm not a waste of space, I have a mommy there to give me all of that attention.  And then she takes me out for lunch and buys me chocolate with salt in it (thanks mom!)

But I'm not a mommy.  I'm a coach.

This is what people see when I tell them I'm a coach, not a mom. 
I'm there to point out flaws and set deadlines.  I'm there to assign tasks and make goals for improvement.  I'm there to be the kind of observer that is allowed to be critical because if the child doesn't pass, it doesn't impact my welfare at all.  I'm lucky, actually - because I can put that kind of "fear" into a child in a way parents can't.  Kids generally know that their parents won't let them fall in life.  They know that the car won't actually turn around on the way to Disneyland, even if they're arguing.  If they don't get a job, there's mom.  If they can't afford a house, there's dad.  If they run out of food or need a nice meal - home is always waiting.  But I don't have to support the child financially if they don't move out on time or get into college.  And if I disappoint a student, or if a student is bothered by a rule, they are only with me for a few hours a week and can switch classes if they really want to.  You're stuck with family.  Teachers are temporary.  Families are forever.  My job is to find ways to be fair to 100 students at a time, not just three or four children.  And that sometimes means that people don't like me.  And that sometimes means that I'm not nice.  (Not that I'm always that way, by the way. I don't believe that yelling and fury are the answer to classroom management.  But I also believe in the power of saying "no" now and then.)

This is what it really looks like (most of the time.)

But that's not mean.  Not really.  Mean is more potent than the temporary pain of a late assignment.  When it comes down to it, my students know that I care about them.  I know because they tell me that I do.  And they're not wrong.  There are many of them that I consider, if not friends, and not my children, then colleagues.  There are many that I would love to set up with my sister because I think they're that amazing.  There are some so brilliant that I wish I had their future and potential.  Many of my choices have been made.  Their potential is still so, so fluid.  I wish I could show them how much I see and how excited I am for them.  I wish I could tell their parents how much I see and how excited I am for them.  They could take over the world, my kids.  And I love them.

But I'm a coach.  A teacher.  A barren one, currently - and there are strengths in that.  I have no doubt that I will learn more than I can imagine if I ever have the chance to sit on the other side of the Parent/Teacher Conference table - but to this well-meaning individual who seemed to be suggesting to me that by telling a student no (which, incidentally, I wasn't doing) that I wasn't being "helpful" and that I don't care about students - my response is simple:

We need both.  We need the mom who threatens to turn the car around and then doesn't.  That kind of mercy is a powerful thing.  But we also need a coach who gives you drills if you come to practice late.  It makes you stronger.  And I don't need to be a mom to see the benefit of both.  So stop making fun of my sad uterus.

This is disgusting.  


A. B. said...

Oh. My. I can't believe someone said that to you. That is ridiculous. Being a mom does NOT make you a better teacher than someone who is not a mom. There is absolutely no correlation between being a mom and being a good teacher. What nonsense! And you are right! You do have a certain power over kids that their parents don't. AND you have a special influence that their parents don't. Yes, parents who love and support you are important but a teacher who cares is equally as important. It takes a village to raise a child. I am annoyed/mad that she thought it incumbent upon herself to tell you how to talk to kids. If she has a degree in child psychology it might have been okay... but being a mom doesn't make you the all time expert on kid talk. If anything a good teacher is better than a mom at that sort of thing! Sorry. Long rant. You're amazing. The end.

Daniel and Belinda said...

I agree with A.B. Just because you're a mom, doesn't mean you can communicate and understand children better then someone who doesn't have children.