I have had many things lately that have been “eyeopeners” to the fact that I am progressing into the 2nd half of my career. The gray hairs, hiring former students as teachers, realizing there are only a few people left at YMS that were here before me are all reminders that I am not “the new kid” anymore. However, the thing that really struck a chord with me recently was during our registration. I saw all the bright eyed, anxious, smiling 6th graders. All of them ready for middle school, many nervous about lockers and finding classes, and even more mother’s nervous about their “babies” going off to middle school. All of a sudden it hit me! My son Nolan is a 6th grader!
I can remember back to one of my first years as a classroom teacher, I had a discipline issue with a student that required a phone call home to the parent. As we discussed the issues and behaviors the parent asked me, “Do you have children of your own?” At the time I did not have children. The parent explained to me that when I did I would understand more, etc, etc. I dismissed it and thought the parent to be making excuses for the child, and in a passive-aggressive sort of way undermining my authority. It wasn’t a combative conversation, but for some reason always stayed fresh in my mind.
Now years later, after having children of my own I understand what this parent was meaning. It wasn’t that the parent disagreed with the disciplinary action that I was taking against their child, but they understood that in the grand scheme of things you learn to pick and choose your battles. We have a wide array of teachers in our building who do and do not have children. They are all wonderful teachers and have the best interests of children daily. However, having children, especially a child in middle school, does provide a worldly perspective that has definitely changed the lens through which I view this age group.