The Perks of Being a Teacher Mom

The atomic death stare, for starters.

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A lot’s been made of the difficulty of being a teacher and a parent. There’s the constant guilt that you’re not devoting your full attention and energy to either your offspring or your students.  There’s the fact that, if you teach at a different school from your child, you bring home twice the diseases to share with each other.

And, of course, the fact that it’s impossible for teachers to find a name for a baby. Katie? Yeah, that’s a great name! Except for that kid who always wore jeans that showed … a little too much, and now you can’t hear the name Katie without thinking of an eighth grader’s whale tail. I always thought Dylan was a nice name, until a Dylan wrote a detailed description on a bathroom wall of what he thought I’d do for twenty dollars. So those are some definite setbacks.

There are, however, a lot of perks of being a teacher mom that may not have crossed your mind. For example:

1.The atomic death stare.

I’d imagine that takes time to learn when you have a toddler, but not if you already have experience working with kids. You’ve also mastered the snap-and-point (useful for interrupting during phone conversations!) and the whole counting-to-three routine before you even bring your newborn home from the hospital.

2. Easy take-home treats!

I take things from my students all the time…funny erasers, random toys, possibly a prison shank once. If I have to take it up more than once, it generally goes home to my kid. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that little kids love cheap plastic crap. If I saved all that stuff for Christmas, I wouldn’t even have to shop.

3. A wealth of babysitters.

I teach middle school, so I’ve got more cheap teenage help than I know what to do with. And half of them would probably babysit for free just for the novelty of hanging out in a teacher’s house. You have to carefully choose your babysitters … make sure you get ones who won’t go through your underwear drawer and all that, but you generally have lots of options.

4. Entertainment opportunities.

Okay, so spending Saturday morning at the school soccer game may not sound awesome to you. But do you know who loves it? Your three-year-old!  Preschool is closed the day of your school’s field day? I can guarantee you that your students will let that baby help with tug of war and she’ll have the time of her life. Personally, I’ve been letting my kid help with grading lately. I grade the paper; he writes the numbers. This means that I have to tell the kids what their grades are individually, since they can’t read his chicken scratch, but he’s really been enjoying it.

5. Different perspectives.

I’m a middle class white mom. My kid goes to school with a bunch of middle class white kids. It’s easy to find yourself in an echo chamber where all the issues you discuss—cosleeping, organic vegetables, screen time—are middle class white people issues. Teaching at a school for refugee and immigrant kids, I get to see how parenting works in other cultures, as well as in families that aren’t as privileged as mine.

While I’m probably not going to start threatening my kid with a flip flop—which one of my students assured me is THE most important part of parenting—I’ve learned that my way is not the only way.  And it’s definitely strengthened my commitment to raise a child who is aware of his own privilege and who works to create a more equitable world.

6. The schedule.

This one’s obvious. Everybody else I know has to sign their kid up for a different camp for every week of the summer so they can go to work. I can usually drag my kid along when I have to work weekends, and it’s generally not a mad dash to pick him up before daycare closes. (Unless I go out for margaritas with my colleagues after work. Then it’s a struggle sometimes.)

Will my kid be screwed up because he’s a teacher’s son? Yeah, probably. We’re afraid he may have inherited some genetic material, so I’ve started putting him in time out every time I catch him playing school with his stuffed animals. (That’s a JOKE…or is it?)  He has to make some sacrifices because I’m also helping to raise other people’s children.

But my kid knows people his friends are unlikely to meet; members of the state Goalball team (it’s a sport for blind people; Google it), many newcomers to this country, a couple of potential professional soccer players. Having a teacher for a mom has given my kid a bigger world, and for that I will always be grateful.

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