Thank you Dawn and Amanda for being brave and responding to my last post! I had to get it out of my system..and I didn't even get it all out because a lot of it I'm actually embarrassed and ashamed. I have been doing a lot of soul searching and a bit of letter writing the last few days. I forget how cathartic writing a letter can be. I need to remind myself to keep with my mail pile so I'm not keeping things inside. It was in the last letter that I had written to a fellow raveler and teacher that I realized why I really truly became a teacher.
Over the last couple of days I have been thinking about my childhood. I didn't really have much of one with my sister being born when I was 8 years old and then my brother when I was 11. I became their primary caregiver afterschool so from the time I was about 9 or 10 all the way until I left for college, I was stuck taking care of the kids; kids who weren't even mine. Both of my parents worked. My mom worked a regular 8-4 job while the pyscho worked varying shifts. I think when my brother and sister were really young he worked the graveyard shift so he'd be home with them during the daytime. Then when we all got older, he switched to swing shift so I'd have to go pick them up from the babysitter's house and then we'd all walk home after I got out of school. Of course I couldn't do any activities because I had to go straight home to take care of the kids.
It has dawned on me that my parents didn't really 'raise' me. I had to grow up quickly since part of the responsibility of taking care of my brother and sister fell into my lap-not by choice but out of obligation. I was polite, had impeccable manners (who knows where they came from), and did really well in school. While my friends would tell me that they got $20 (or something like that) for a good report card, I didn't have any boasting to do. I didn't ever get anything for a good report card and I always had good report cards. I wasn't ever praised either. I also never received any kind of encouragement. So for me, it was like getting straight A's was expected. The psycho would only ever comment when he had something negative to share. In the 5th grade, I won the district-wide spelling bee. Did I even get a congratulations or a we're so proud of you? No. In fact, I don't think they said anything to me at all about winning. They were more annoyed about having to take me here or there. The following year when I ended up losing (but made it to the final round), the only thing to come out of that psycho's mouth was, "Why didn't you win?"
When I was a kid, school was my escape. I loved going to school. I loved my teachers and my friends. I loved learning! My teachers were always praising me when credit was due and they knew what a great student I was. I excelled in both reading and math. Oh, I failed to mention in the paragraph above that my parents never attended an Open House or a parent conference. Work was always more important. It was like they didn't care what was going on in the one place where I actually thrived. Aside from the lack of praise and encouragement, there were also no hugs or kisses or mentions of how loved I was (if I ever was). I just existed. I was there to take care of the kids.
So it dawned on me, (while I was writing the aforementioned letter because I had been talking about my childhood in that letter) that this was the real reason I went into teaching. It wasn't just that working with kids came easy to me. It was because I wanted to be like the teachers I had in school that were encouraging, offered praise, and were there for those students who weren't getting those things at home. I guess it is also why I strive instill independence and a strong self-esteem in my students. I want them to be able to get past a childhood like the one I had and go on to succeed in life.
On a lighter note, I had a knitting breakthrough too.
clothilde once I get around completing dame damson, purple haze, and possibly that cozy cardi as well! At least the yarn is already wound. :) Still working on a mental list of things that make me happy! Oh and today, I received two early birthday gifts. Macy's sent me a gift certificate and Robyn sent me a package that I can't wait to open!