When I was a young teacher starting out in education, I heard something that struck a nerve. One teacher commented on how having her own children changed her as a teacher. “Until you have your own children, you won’t understand what it is like.” Around the same time, a friend said having her own kids made her a better teacher. What? Unthinkable.
In student teaching, my mentor in kindergarten told me to always treat the children like they were my own. She told me this after a little boy came up crying at recess. She gave him a little hug, some encouragement, and sent him back to play more. I thought I did a pretty good job treating the kids like they were my own: I was tough and fussed a lot, but I always loved on them when they walked in the door too. Once I had my own classroom, I remember some parents being concerned, because I was a young teacher. They questioned me often on decisions I would make regarding discipline, and I didn’t understand then, but I do now.
The thing is, no matter how much someone loves your kid, they will never love her the same or as much as you! Parents get this. And once you have kids, you will be able to understand why parents are as crazy as they are.
Last week Ale started daycare across the street from my school. She was excited to ride the bus and go to school. She was excited to have new friends. She was excited to get treats at the end of the day before heading by home. But the tears upon pick-up about did me in. In five days of school, three of them she had accidents. The other two days she didn’t use the bathroom. All day. For seven hours.
I started thinking about how it feels as a mom. When we see that someone else is spending the whole day with our babies, and they are unhappy, it makes us hurt inside. It makes us suspicious. It makes us question what happens when we aren’t watching. And more than anything, it makes us wish for a change for our children that would bring happiness back around. I have sat in conferences when moms have said their children didn’t want to come to school, and while it is somewhat concerning, I always felt that it was more their problem than my own. Until having children. After Ale was born, my perspective changed; why were they unhappy? What happened? What did I do? What could I do differently?
We (parents) just need reassurance that someone will love our kids as much as we do. Yes, we know that is impossible. But that’s what we look for when we turn over our most precious cargo into your hands. Just love them. Hold them when they cry. Assure them that all will be okay. Kiss their boo-boos. Hold their hands. Let them tell you about their days without shushing them. Don’t lose patience when they don’t understand or speak a different language. Allow them to ask questions and explore. Make them feel safe–safe enough to tell you what they tell us. Safe enough to tell you about bullies. Safe enough to tell you they don’t like the book you’re reading. Safe enough to interrupt. Safe enough to receive your correction when they do without getting scared.
Just love our babies.
And when someone tells you that having your own children will change you as a teacher, don’t get offended. It’s the truth.