Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Perks of Being the Teacher's Kid

Teaching my own children was both a blessing and a curse. I loved finally being able to spend the day with them, having given up on ever being the stay-home mom I wanted to be, but I discovered early there were drawbacks. 

Perhaps I erred on the side of being too careful when it came to favoritism. I tried so hard to be a fair teacher, and wanted so much for there to be no doubt that I did not favor my own children over their classmates, I think I leaned the OTHER way, much to the disappointment of my children. I tended to be a little harder on my own kids than the others, in my efforts to make things seem "even."

As soon as they were strong enough to help, at the beginning of every August, they helped me set up my classroom. That is no small feat, and their help made so much difference to me. They helped me with moving the furniture, covering the bulletin boards, and organizing supplies and papers. It was a bonding experience, and we usually celebrated after our hard work with a trip to Bullies, the local hamburger joint. 

During the school year, whether they were in my classroom or not, I often had them help me with sorting papers, checking tests, and keeping the classroom tidy. They were good workers, and their help was invaluable to me. I know there were times I seemed to put pressure on them for insider information about playground incidents, treating them like members of an espionage team rather than my students, but that wasn't very often.

When I had Dylan and Sierra in my first grade classroom, and then later, in my fifth grade class, I loved that I was able to get to know them and their classmates better. Those kids are in their mid- and late-twenties now, and I still have contact with many of them on Facebook. Those particular classes had many strong personalities and good students; I have such good memories of my two years with them. 

By the time Bridger started school, I was moved to fifth grade, so I only had him and his classmates one time. Those kids are in high school now, and it is fun to see them socially at the high school events and on Facebook.

At the beginning of Dylan's first grade year, I can remember calling on him when he had raised his hand. "Should I call you Mrs. Waters or Denise?" he wanted to know. What a kid.

"Your choices are Mrs. Waters or MOM, Silly." He grinned widely, proud of himself for his little joke.
The last day of first grade for Dylan's class. Dyl is the tall blonde-haired boy in the white shirt to the left of me.

Dylan is quick to point out that he was not in my homeroom in fifth grade. That was a tough call to make, and it was one that ultimately fell to me. I will never be able to justify my decision to him, but my thoughts behind the decision were that I knew he would be in my advanced language arts class for half of the day, and I felt like it would be good to have a "break" from each other so that we would have things to talk about at the end of the day. 

My eldest is a perfectionist, and it is hard for me to see his frustration with himself if something doesn't come easily, or if he makes a mistake. Knowing how hard I am on my own children, I felt like it would be nicer for him to have a more objective teacher for part of the day. Here is my apology for that:

Dear Dylan,

I screwed up, and I will publicly admit that I probably made the wrong decision. In hindsight, I wish I had just kept you all to myself in fifth grade. Yes, I think it was a mistake because of the inadvertent message I sent you. I know you love to tease me that it was proof I loved you less than your siblings, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I wish I could have a Mulligan, a do-over. I would have placed you in my homeroom, and we would have gotten through it, although, I think you would not have liked how I would have tried too hard to prove how fair I was to the other students by holding you to a slightly higher standard. Please forgive me. Of all the mistakes I made, this one bothers me more than most.


1st Grade Field Trip w/ Sierra
When the children were in elementary school, they came to school early with me, and they stayed after with me many days. Other teacher's children would join them on the playground, or in one of the mom's classrooms. When Bridger entered kindergarten, I became friends with his teacher, and she and I began working out after the school day ended. He generally went to his babysitter's house to play with friends while we lifted weights at the high school, and went for our walks.

When Bridger was in fifth grade, just like when I had his brother and sister, we always got to school early. When the other children started to arrive, I always made him go outside to wait, just like everyone else, until the bell rang. 

"Just what ARE the perks of being the teacher's kid?" he asked me one day.

I thought for a moment, searching the database in my brain for a good answer. My mind drew a blank.

"I don't think there are any," I replied.

He turned away to head outdoors. "I don't think so, either," was all he said before he left.
Bridger's Fifth Grade Class. My boy is the one in the red shirt on the top row.
As we were coming home from our back-to-school shopping last summer, getting Bridger ready for his sophomore year of high school, he broke into a wide grin. 

"What are you so happy about?" I asked him.

"I just realized that this is the first year I won't have to help you set up your classroom." We both smiled then. I think he finally found a perk of being the teacher's kid, but he had to wait until I retired to enjoy it!

Now that I have had time to think about it, I think I thought of some perks, but I don't know that I could have convinced my children when they were six and ten that there were many advantages at all. I am so grateful to have been able to be together during the day. It was fun to interact, and to learn together at school, as mother and child, teacher and student. It was such a good experience to watch them grow and develop relationships with their friends. I've always considered my classroom to be a home away from home, a family away from family. It was extra-special for me to have my own children in my second family at school. Were there other perks? You'd have to ask my kids. I'd love to hear what they have to say. 


  1. I never had my own children in my classroom, but they certainly accompanied me every summer's end to help me set up my room. They thought that was a perk. That and the fact I was off when they were off and home when they were home. The biggest compliment I got recently was from my youngest daughter who said, "Wow, I never thought of you as a working mom."

    1. Oh, Rebecca, that is a marvelous compliment! Thank you for stopping by!

  2. This is great stuff! My kiddo has been coming to class with me since he I wore him as a tiny thing in a front pack. I always felt a little bad that when his school had extra days off, he would have to come to classes with me, sitting under the desk in the front of the room (his choice) quietly reading while I lectured. Until recently he told me he loves it. He enjoys coming to his mama's work. And I enjoy having him here. I can see through his eyes now, that it must be fun to sit through a college class and to have "grown-up" discussions afterward about the material. They will always be some of my fondest memories.

    1. Kendra! I missed this somehow. Thank you for visiting here, and taking the time to leave a comment. How nice you could take your little one with you. Mine only came for very brief visits, but it was always so fun!


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