Why Give Teachers Presents?

My children have had a fair mix of school teachers over the years; good, bad, never ugly. Some could have been ….better at their jobs. -You know, jobs where they should have known they were working with small children and might need a smidgen of patience and crowd control. One or two others were phenomenal and more than earned their middling teacher’s salary. The rest land just lower than that, which is fine for a normal human.

But that’s it: teachers make the same whether they put a movie on at least once a week day or whether they split children into ability-appropriate groups and organized educational games.

And all of them take my children all day. That right there is enough to earn their pay.

On top of that, they manage to teach my kids a thing or two that I couldn’t. I’d say that’s good for a candy bar on their birthday.

Best of all, that saint with a yardstick did not end up killing that one child (who looked a lot like my son) who dumped water on her on Field Day and ran off laughing about it. I’m …still working on what to get her.

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Teaching is a highly underrated and underpaid profession. Yes, teachers only work 9 months of the year. Technically they work from 8-3 instead of 9-5. They get summers off and Christmas Break and the occasional PTA present of a mug. Some do not try as hard as they might and some go into the profession intending to not try.

In actual practice however, teachers spend the ‘extra’ 3 months setting up lesson plans, classrooms, and schedules. Their days run from 7 a.m.-whenever they finish grading homework. Many work summer jobs to make ends meet (often also in an educational position like Driver’s Ed). Some have so many mugs they donate them straight to Goodwill. Most do not go into teaching to make money, but to make a difference.

Even the (two) times my children have had barely passable elementary instructors, I made sure those women received some token of appreciation at Christmas and during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Why?

The very people teaching my boys with positive reinforcement could use a little of their own. Teaching is difficult. The pay’s not worth it. In several areas of the world, the children and the parents put stress on already impossible expectations.

And maybe every time a child (who looks suspiciously like mine) acts up a bit, they’ll feel somewhat better knowing a parent out there loves them and appreciates what they do.

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Sunday, May 26: “Happily Ever After is Possible, but it Requires an Epic Journey,” a post encouraging couples to work at their relationship.

Monday, May 27: Wrote a poem titled, “Summer Vacation -Almost.”

Tuesday, May 28: Shared an appropriate image about real life expectations.

Wednesday thru Saturday: Nothing, nothing; tra-la-la.

Sunday, June 2: That’s today!

Photo Credit:
Nicole Honeywill

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens

The Good Old Days

I spent a lovely evening (without kids!!) watching a slideshow of my grandmother and her family. My great-grandmother had taken many pictures during her daughter’s childhood, and even had a few from her own.

I enjoyed sitting with my current extended family and reminiscing on memories and events. “That was their first house.” “Oh, look! I remember that car!” “She loved that outfit so much!”

When people talk about the past, they tend to remember the best parts. They have photographic proof of the best parts, too: the family vacations, beloved car, high school friends, favorite toys, and every year’s Christmas trees.

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In fact, I often hear folks nowadays fondly recalling what has been and wishing that we could return to those times.

During conversations with a friend about my children, he said, “In the old days, people would have just said, ‘Boys will be boys,’ and not tried to raise them as girls.” I’ve had neighbors say, “Children used to play outside all day and we never worried about strangers.” Talking to old people in general makes me think I live in a war-torn ghetto instead of a nice suburban neighborhood.

The truth is that every time has its ups and downs. Even during tonight’s family photo slideshow, there were a few snippets of reality.

“That’s Gertrude*. She died of the Spanish ‘Flu. They buried her while seven months pregnant.” “Ha! I remember that halter top. I thought I was pretty hot stuff wearing it.” “There’s that old car, Gramps. Didn’t you and grandma make out a lot in that?” (The answer was affirmative.)

Boys might have been boys, and they also might have been legally paddled by schoolteachers. We may have had more children outside, but they had lead paint and childhood diseases that led to death.

I bring this all up as a helpful reminder that we ought not to beat ourselves up too much about the way things are compared to how they were.

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Yes, we need to raise our families and spend time outside and love our children so much. But, we do not need to compare ourselves to a bygone age. We do not need to feel poorly for not building a wagon in our tool shop with our four-year-old son. Whatever relative did that most likely endured hours of yelling, mismatched parts, hammered fingers, and an end product that rolled somewhat lopsidedly.

In any time, it’s the thought that counts. And the family time.

 

*Names changed.

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Sunday, March 24: “A Verry Unmerry Birthday to You,” my lamentations regarding birthdays as a mother.

Monday, March 25: “A Poem About Procrastination,” a quick little ditty about shirking responsibility.

Tuesday, March 26: Shared a quote from Pinterest. It’s inspirational. Sort-of.

Wednesday, March 27: Served a Dinner Tip about easy meals.

Thursday, March 28: Posted a quick thought about finding your children.

Friday, March 29: Advised you all to stick to your guns in “Don’t Give In, and Stay Sane Doing So.”

Saturday, March 30: Shared SAHM_RN‘s tweet about shared responsibility.

Sunday, March 31: Today!

Photo Credit:
Laura Fuhrman
Amy Treasure

A Very Unmerry Birthday to You

Yesterday was my birthday. As a mother, that meant the day ran about the same as all the others but my kids and husband wanted me to be happy. Act happy. Look excited. Smile more (well, at all). Eagerly anticipate what household object they had gift-wrapped.

In short, I needed to be as excited as the boys all feel when it’s their birthday.

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Like most events in life, however, I dread my birthday. I don’t like being the spotlight. I’m not a fun present un-wrapper. I’m not the life of the party. When birthdays or Mother’s Day roll around, I’d rather not be here to celebrate. This desire confuses and hurts my family.

The problem is that the day is still a day. My day of birth was a Saturday this year; but, when it’s a weekday; I still have carpool, cleaning, sports classes, dinner, dishes, bedtime, and attempts to bond as a couple.

The problem is that my entire life is to anticipate the whims of the house and its occupants and cater to them to avoid nuclear meltdown. Everyone else’s needs come first and I feel shallow thinking about myself.

The problem is, like with most events, I need to ask for what I want in order to receive it -and I feel bad for having wants in the first place. I’ve crumpled up and trashed anything resembling innermost desires; and feel like an indecent, filthy street beggar pawing through something molding when asked about them.

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Why? That doesn’t seem healthy. Perhaps it’s not.

Acknowledging the problem or even testing out the whole “asking for what I want” thing doesn’t erase the guilt. Again, though, why not? And, more specifically, how can we erase the guilt? Lobotomy?

Frankly, I’ve spent the last few years in an intentional haze of semi-tiredness (very like a lobotomy) in order to avoid some of these bothersome feelings. I’ve numbed to avoid sadness and empty despair and hopelessness. I’ve pretended contentment and ignored myself in order to function.

*Sigh*

Birthdays don’t have to be so heavy and serious, of course. I actually only cried because I wanted to a little yesterday. Then, my sister planned a surprise mani/pedi appointment and my mother took me to lunch afterwards. My husband, for his part, took the children and the housework for the day.

In all, even my Eeyore side had to agree that it was a good birthday.

Now, if I could just get over how guilty I feel that everyone did all that for me…

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Sunday, March 17: “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” my scientific observations of what the clothes washer produces.

Monday, March 18: Wrote a poem for The Bloggers Bash competition titled, “Five More Minutes.”

Tuesday, March 19: Shared a quote by Christie Mellor.

Wednesday, March 20: Whispered my super secret tip about bread preservation.

Thursday, March 21: “In Case of Emergency, Interrupt.” Never ignore The Look.

Friday, March 22: Advised against Super Momming in “Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?

Saturday, March 23: Shared Unfiltered Mama‘s tweet about difficult kids.

Sunday, March 24: Today! Yay!

 

Photo Credit:
Jorge Ibanez
Jiroe
Rune Enstad

Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?

Not too long ago, I had a side job. It entailed scouring the internet for pictures of birthday parties, home décor, and craft how-to’s; stealing copying those pictures; and writing about them using keywords and sponsored links.

Before I had that job, I didn’t have a Pinterest account. I didn’t have an Instagram account. And, honestly, I didn’t even have a blogging account.

Before The Job I planned birthday parties for the sole intent of celebrating someone’s birth. I had little that was superfluous for decorating. And I hadn’t ever made a cardboard tombstone or flocked a Christmas tree.

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After nine months of writing the articles, therefore, I knew a lot more about the back-alley world of Pinterest. I knew that there were at least “11 Classroom Games for Room Mothers,” that I could look up “10 Minecraft Party Ideas,” and that there were “12 Ways to Pumpkin-Up Your Porch.” (That last title was my idea.)

And I felt a bit disturbed.

Were all the moms out there really doing birthday parties like that, or houses?

What I’ve seen in real life confirms my fears. Joanna Gaines is all over magazines, Target, and my neighbors’ houses. Party favors, games, and backdrops for one-year-olds follow a coordinated theme. I scrolled through a thread on TwoFacebook recently about installing pallet board walls, headboards, or ceilings. Women in my area show up to parties in low boots, tight pants, front-tucked-in shirts, and long-curled hair; carrying magazine-ready plates of organic foods and centerpieces that would shame Martha Stewart -for an afternoon lunch.

Over-the-top, much?

I know how lovely a well-planned party looks; how much creativity cred a mom can get from other moms for sticking to a theme. I’ve seen the white sitting rooms, silver candlesticks, and fur rugs that make a house look like a family never even breathed in it.

Yes; it’s a nice look.

No; it’s not worth it.

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Why? Because we have to live in a house. We have to raise our children to be balanced and not assume perfection. We need to be present more than give lots of presents. It is possible.

The reason I have a birthday party is not to show off.

The reason I decorate my house is so the kids can look forward to a holiday and so the house itself feels dressier.

The reason I run through a how-to is so that I can get the battery changed in the car without electrocuting myself. If I read a crafting walkthrough, it’s so that I can make an awesomely scary ghost with the kids.

Parents have enough on their plates without worrying about plating the food. They have enough mess to clean without trying to get handprints onto paper plates or shiplap onto walls. Do we really need to make parenting more difficult?

No.

So, don’t feel guilty with a Wal-mart cake and singing. Don’t sigh over mismatched furniture. Don’t worry that you can’t make an American flag out of a pallet.

You just might be human. Plus, your little humans will learn to be reasonable, too.

 

Photo Credits:
Photo by Patricia Prudente on Unsplash
Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash
Photo by Hedy Yin on Unsplash