I was brushing Saoirse’s hair this morning before school, which is always a task that takes approximately 23 minutes longer than expected (kidding. But it’s a pretty intense process. Which is why I usually let Quinlan do her own hair–all those curls! all that high-pitched screaming in pain! all of that chasing her around the bathroom because she keeps running away from me!–and tolerate the fact that she will perpetually–and quite happily, mind you–look like she got into a fight with a rapid flock of geese. One battle at a time, people). We were talking about…something. I don’t know what. Probably about how long it takes to brush her hair. And then this conversation came out of the blue, as they tend to do:
SK: “Mom? At the game last weekend, when they [the announcer] asked all the teachers to stand up so people could clap, why didn’t you stand up?”
Me: “I don’t know, Seersh. Probably because I’m not a teacher anymore.”
SK: “But you are a teacher.”
Me, shaking my head: “Not anymore, kiddo. It’s been so long since I taught I would’ve felt funny standing up.”
Saoirse was looking at me in the mirror as we spoke, and I watched her face break into this massive grin.
“You teach US!” she said. “You should’ve done it.”
David and I were just talking about it the other day: that I’m so far removed from my teaching days that I almost feel like I can’t lay claim to having been one. That’s so weird to me. But on some levels it makes sense: I don’t feel wistful anymore on the first day of each new school year. I don’t see myself stepping back into the high school classroom full-time again, but that’s mainly because I’d have a crap-ton of classes to do in order to get my certification reinstated (because you know I didn’t put it on hold before I left, of course. Thinking ahead isn’t exactly my strongest skill). But I’m still insanely proud to have been a teacher. I still feel like I’m a sister to the teachers in my life. And I definitely still feel like I want to raise my hand when I’m around a school and say, “I was here, too! I get it. I understand.”
But I’m not anymore. So I didn’t stand up during that moment in the stadium on Saturday. I didn’t have a right to: working school teachers are a special breed, and deserve to be recognized as such. But it’s so neat to hear that my daughter sees me that way. Do you realize that, friends? All of our kids see us that way. We’re always being told that we are our children’s first teachers. And duuuuuuh, of course we are, but still. I can’t tell you how good it felt to meet SK’s eyes in the mirror and see her grinning at me like that.
I’m not a teacher to all anymore. But I am a teacher to a few. And by golly, this class of mine is pretty damned spectacular.