What did you want to be when you grew up?
I am sure there were lots of things I wanted to be, but the one thing I can remember wanting to be for a very, very long time is a teacher.
I remember holding my brother hostage in the summertime to play school with me. We would be staying at my grandmother’s while Mom was at work and I would turn the coffee table into my schoolroom and a barstool into my desk. I would give my brother ridiculous assignments (like multiplication problems that even I couldn’t solve) and then sit at my “desk” and “grade” papers while he was supposed to be doing his work.
Of course, he was much more interested in playing UNDER the table with his Hot Wheels than he was in being my student. I would then have to send him to the “office” (also known as Grandma’s kitchen) for being a disruptive student.
Now that I’m a mom I marvel at my grandma’s patience with me as I played this game over and over. And at the fact that my brother didn’t kill me for making him be my student. (maybe it was because he couldn’t be bothered to spend that energy on killing me when the world needed saving by GI Joe?)
My love of teaching never seemed to wane, though.
Even in high school, I was looking for opportunities to mentor other students and loved the opportunities I found working in the office of the Lower (elementary) School so that I could “teach” the kids down there and they could benefit from the eons of experience I had (at age 15).
Once I was in college, I worked on campus in the English department as a tutor (among the many part-time jobs I had, at the same time, while I was in college). I would help the students who couldn’t tell their alliterations from their allegories. I would counsel them on the need for proper punctuation and cleverly crafted essays. I would edit, coach and tweak until their works were ready to be turned in to the professors.
I even contemplated taking some classes to become a school teacher – but that lasted all of five minutes when I realized that some of the things they cared about (like having perfect handwriting) were really kind of stupid (to me) and I went back to studying computers instead.
Ironically, once I was out in the “real” world, I ended up teaching. My first full-time job was working as a programmer for the local power company. I was the only one who knew (what was then a new programming language – I’m old, people, old) C and C++ and I was hired to work on a new software system that was written in C. Everyone else there were Cobol programmers (are there even any Cobol programmers still around these days?) and I was supposed to teach them C and C++. Me, 18 year old punk that I was – I was supposed to teach these GROWN UPS how to program in C. Well, yeah, that didn’t happen.
Then I moved to the big city and went to work for a company that was implementing some new software. I was hired to manage the end-user training of the implementation and I got to teach everyone how to use the new system. Way cool. Except my boss was stinky (literally) and his boss was a raving nut job.
I next moved to the company who wrote the software that we’d implemented. They had approached me and offered me a position to be an instructor. I spent the next eight or so years traveling around the world teaching other people how to use their software. It was a dream come true. (and no one cared about my penmanship!)
Today, I’m a teacher in a different sense of the word. But, I think it’s the best kind of teaching job I could possibly have.
I’m a teacher to my girls.
And the things I’m teaching them are way more important than “Reading, Writing and ‘rithmetic”
I’m teaching them how to grow into responsible, mature, caring young women.
It’s a daunting, thankless task. One that is never-ending, mind-numbing, exhausting and that no one has written a lesson plan for. But it is the best, most perfect, teaching job I’ve ever had.
Little did I know, when I was that small girl playing school at my grandma’s house, that I would really grow up to be a teacher. In so many senses of the word. Both in my career and in my personal life.
How awesome is that? I really did grow up to be exactly what I wanted to be.