Margo's Kindergarten Teacher, "A monkey for Haloween"
I started reading Phillip Done's new book, "Close encounters of the third-grade kind", and was almost inspired to become a teacher. Of course I could not do it right now, but I thought when my little one was a little older, I could work on a teaching credential. But then I kept reading the next few chapters and was inundated by lists. Lists of what a elementary school teacher creates everyday or week to keep their lives in order. Then it hit me, I may be one of the Messys. Mr. Done states, "I'm convinced that there really are only two types of people in the world-----those with neat desks like my boss's and those with messy desks like mine. Tidys and Messys, I call them. It really is a Mars-and-Venus sort of thing." His discussion continues, however he reveals himself to be of the "Messy" variety. I can not tell you if that means he is a Venus or Mars type of person either. I can't even tell you if I am a Venus or Mars type of person. But I can tell you I am of the order of Messy's according to the book. I was not disheartened after this realization, because as I continued to read the book, I discovered the impact this "Messy" teacher has on his students.
So I started to read the book, not because I wanted to become a teacher, but because I thought I might learn something about relating to young children. I figured this would come in handy since my little Margo is only 6 years old at the time of this writing. Plus, I know how much Margo loves her teacher Mrs. B. In fact she has loved all of her teachers since preschool and Tuesday-Thursday class. So perhaps I could learn a few secrets about what makes a good teacher and then somehow figure out a way to transpose that into what makes a good mom.
And learn I did. I discovered caring for a student requires more heart and creativity than just brute force and organization. I lack immensely in the area of organization, and brute force is not another of my strong points these days either. So on with creativity, curiosity and imagination. These three C words are the "five dollar words" I discovered in Mr. Dones book. In many ways, his actions and interactions mearly mirrors the creativity, curiosity and imagination displayed in his students throughout the chapters of this book. Now it becomes my turn to use the three C's in my parenting style. (ok, ok, it is really two C's and an I, Creativity, Curiosity and Imagination)
I started in small baby steps, for instance my daughter writes a backwards J. Instead of saying "gee honey that is backwards", I told her a story that the letter "J", likes to look at the letter that comes before it, and voila, she begins to make the correction. What about the emotional side of parenting...how can I apply the three C's there? Just yesterday Margo started to talk about wanting something important to hold or work with so she would be important. Oh my goodness she was just about ready to start crying a bowlful of tears. So I grabbed her in my arms, turned her towards the Christmas tree and began pointing to the very old ornaments hanging on the tree. "You see that red ornament Margo?" "The acorn shaped one momma?" she replied. "Yes that one, it is about 40 - 60 years old. It belonged to grandma Julie, it is a very old, and important ornament. Do you know, you are the only 6 year old I know who was allowed to place that ornament on the tree by yourself. In fact there are a lot of very special and important ornaments that we let you place on the tree all by yourself." There was a pause in the conversation, her eyes dried up, and she began to smile and tell me about her favorite ornament that she put on the tree.
There is a lot to be said about her comment regarding "...feel important." Doing things makes her feel important; good teachers make us feel important. Great teachers allow us to discover the answers to the secrets in life, both in joyful and sometimes painful moments. This book reminded me about what makes a good teacher. Knowing these traits is something I can apply to my relationship with my daughter. I am not sure I will ever become a certified teacher in my future, but I will become a "life teacher" to my daughter. I am sure I will have many interesting stories to tell from the experience as well as an enlarged heart for her and her friends.
Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind is the featred book for the Silicon Valley Moms Group December book club.