Do you feel like you are in a Zombie Apocalypse movie? Lots of people have used “Groundhog Day” as their movie point of reference when the world shifted on its axis in March! I did too, but since then, I’ve shifted to the Zombie thought. In Groundhog Day, of course, Bill Murray plays a TV Weather Man covering the annual event in Pennsylvania and he gets stuck in a cosmic loop where every day is Groundhog Day. That’s what it felt like in April, then May, then, then, then! But now, we are in September and another shift has taken place. At least that’s my observation.
As classes across Canada began a new semester and indeed, new reality, my wife and business partner, Darlene, said to me on this past Monday, “At least we don’t have a kid in school”! No kidding. If you don’t, you likely had the same thought. But you probably know someone who does and if you are the parent of a school age child, how’s it going? Feeling respite after the longest summer of your life? A reminder, they’re sick of you too! Kidding! Or not.
As usual, I want to share some perspective in this blog about “perspective”. First one: How was your home schooling experience? Depending on their age, of course, would determine if it was fun or not fun! I truly believe that the days following March 7, 2020 would be the most confusing in all of our lives.
And if you have kids, double down! If you have teenagers, time for a drink, huh?
I have a line I occasionally use in my talks. “What are the two most life altering words in human language?
I’m Pregnant”! Of course, that’s a woman talking and in fact, “we” could also be included. I cannot tell a lie. When those words came out of my ex-wife’s lips in early 1985, I was terrified. No excitement, no joy! Just a dark, foreboding panic. This was not a planned pregnancy. In fact, I was having serious doubts about our relationship strongly in favour of ending it. Then…poof!
So on August 23rd, 1985, Vance Nathan Law was born. When I held him for the first time, he was eleven minutes old. I was still overwhelmed but holding your own brand new child is hard to describe. One observation; for the first time in many peoples lives, including mine, the expression, “It’s Not About Me” takes on a profound meaning. They are completely helpless and you are all they have. And who they get as a parent is a crap shoot, right? And that goes both ways! We can’t even take it for a test drive to see if we like it or not! For some people, it’s the best day of their lives. For others, the worst!
Without going into detail because it’s common knowledge, my birth family had a terrible day when I was born. Five days later, I was homeless. I repeat this detail, maybe too often, but it’s not for dramatic effect. Modern psychology will tell you that not having the affection and love of your birth mother in particular, can be catastrophic. I’m sincerely not making light of this because I know for a fact, I’ve had “abandonment issues” my whole life. But let’s be clear, I’ve never blamed my birth mother for causing my problems in that regard. Stuff happens, right? Or as my wife would say..”It Is What It Is”!
My point is this. Being a parent is the hardest job anyone ever gets and it’s challenges are enhanced by not enjoying the experience. Whether a child is planned or not, they become our responsibility…forever! Yikes!
When Vance was little, it felt like it would last forever. A couple of weeks ago, he turned 35! Yikes again! Where’d the time go? That’s another blog. It should be a cautionary tale of how this current crisis too shall pass but what kind of mark will it leave?
The Grad Class of 2020 might be the most impacted. The rite of passage and all the trimmings were not possible this year. Although one of the grads from out here in rural Saskatchewan where we’ve spent the Summer observed, “We were the first grad class who got a parade…ever. That’s something I guess?” I love that attitude.
How’s yours doing?
For 18 years, or so, parents are given the most important task of their existence…raising a child. There’s no handbook. Even so called “parenting books” can’t agree on the right way. We used to spank, and that was okay, until it wasn’t. Some would argue (no comment from me here) the breakdown in respect from kids to adults coincided with the banning of corporal punishment. But we should never hurt our own children, correct? See…minefield! Again, a topic for another day.
If it’s a parent’s responsibility to do everything in their power to raise independent, confident and intelligent adults, why are so many of them so critical of teachers?
It astounds me! I don’t always agree with “Teacher Unions” because I see a big problem with a union mentality period. Let’s be clear. I grew up in a very blue collar home. My Dad was a mechanic for 57 years and a Service Manager for 30 years. I am not “Pro Management” or “Anti Union”, I’m against the adversarial role created between management and labour. I also believe that for any government to be in charge of our schools is the worst possible idea…ever! Too much politics!
So Government Politics. Union Politics. What about the kids? And what about the teachers? Am I the only one to see the huge elephant in the room? Teachers need to feel supported by parents and guess what…they often don’t!
It’s A Privilege
I know this as a fact. In fact, when I speak at teacher’s conventions, I hear it over and over and over again. Government and union hostilities are predictable. But the growing parent hostility defies imagination. Again, another topic for another day but since when did your kid become innocent of everything and teachers, guilty? When I said you have the responsibility, as a parent, to do everything possible for your children, that doesn’t include blaming teachers for the problems your kids create! It’s called…”Entitlement” and I could write a whole book about that alone.
Education is not a “Right”! Let me repeat that…”Education Is Not A Right! It’s A Privilege”!
Teachers are not the enemy! They are the Professionals who went to school for at least four years to have one of the toughest and low paying jobs in humanity! And they are taking care of the child you produced! Who does that?
If you had to become a part-time teacher this past March, did it change your perspective? Was it positive? I hope so because I actually read on social media a parent commenting on how “overpaid” teachers are because he became one and it was a breeze! Serious? You think because you home schooled a ten year old that teachers are redundant? How incredibly arrogant and nieve!
Try teaching thirty or more 15 year olds in a confined space and the contempt shown by more than a few is like daggers! Why can’t kids appreciate education isn’t punishment? It’s the path to their future and unless you are a Kardashian, you are actually supposed to accomplish something with the life you’ve been given and maybe even make a contribution that betters society, not makes it worse! Teachers do that every single day. And by the way, I’m pretty sure the “bad parents” are a minority and most mom’s and dad’s are doing just fine and support their schools. What concerns me is what comes from this pandemic. Will we have more or less respect for schools? I hope the answer is obvious but my career is challenging cultural issues and I just wish we could all agree that in the end, school isn’t simply about completing a course, but learning about life outside the books and that includes the social experience of schools and maybe, just maybe, the wisdom of an educator to provide another perspective for rapidly growing minds. I’d rather have a teacher than the internet any day!
So please do me a favour. Take a couple of minutes to thank a teacher, an administrator, a special ed assistant…the custodian for god sake! They are not there for the pay or the time off. They change lives. They certainly changed mine and for that, I will be forever in their debt!