One Teacher’s Love Changed My Life

I read this story (see link below) that popped up on my Twitter timeline and felt a flood of memories and emotions come rushing into my head that were invoked by the similarities to the incident that this mother has endured. She describes an incident of her child misbehaving at school and immediately being suspended.  This incident was followed by a few more instances of inappropriate behavior and more 1 day suspensions by not only her 4-year-old, but also her 3-year-old son who was in the same school.  The story proceeds to discuss her own experience of being suspended from preschool and the damage it did to her psyche when the teacher admonished her and labeled her as “bad.”

I immediately relived my own suspension at 3 years old at my small private Catholic school in Connecticut.  Although I cannot blame it purely on race, I know that the entire situation traumatized me and remained ingrained into my brain forever.  Thankfully, the teacher who recommended that I be suspended retired and a new pre-school teacher took over her class.  As many years as it has been since I was in that room, I remember the smile and spirit of the kindest woman I have ever known.

This time, as a 4-year-old, my experience was different.  I know me now, so I can only imagine then that I wanted to be the center of attention and show off all of my knowledge.  Ms. Eddie saw this and instead of suppressing my boisterous spirit, she encouraged it.  She would let me sit in her chair and read to the class or allow me to work with other students who may have needed help learning their ABCs.  And from that year on, I rarely had any disciplinary problems in school.  I fell in love with learning and always excelled because I had confidence in myself and I didn’t have my past mistakes following me from classroom to classroom.

When I matriculated to the next grade, Ms. Eddie would always request that I come to her room and read to her new class of students.  Her actions made my other teachers notice how I learned and they too allowed me to be who I needed to  be to succeed.  When I got to the 2nd or 3rd grade, my teacher allowed me to teach a new student who had arrived from Poland how to speak English.  That was my assignment, to sit in the back of the classroom and work with her on the very basics.  It was one of my proudest moments in life, to see my peer read an entire book in a language that I helped her learn.

Over the years, my father would beg the teachers to give me extra work so that I would not ruin the classroom environment for everyone else.  When they didn’t listen, I would distract others who were moving “too slow” or act in a way that I am even ashamed to type about.  My scariest moment in school was when I was laying across the desk and I saw my father’s head peep into the window and I thought my life was over.  He walked in as the class was leaving and asked my teacher why she allowed me to be such a distraction and proceeded to discipline me in the bathroom.

I am blessed that none of my teachers ever labeled me, recommended suspensions or publicly humiliated me in front of the entire class.  I see so much of myself in my son and I know the type of environment he will need to thrive.  So many family members and seasoned parents have told me to observe classroom’s prior to enrolling my son in school, because boys are different.  Their attention spans, the way they react and interact may be different, but it does not have to be labeled as difficult.  I have always realized that Ms. Eddie was one of my many angels.  She gave her life to her students, but more importantly she gave them unconditional love.

We have to get back to a time where students are not treated like factory workers, but instead individualized people with individualized learning styles and habits.  This article reinforces my search for the perfect environment for my mini me.  I hope that he never has to experience the humiliation of a school suspension at such a young age and it is my job to try to prevent it.

For our futures.  For our sons.  For our daughters.  For a better education system.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/24/my-son-has-been-suspended-five-times-hes-3/

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Positive Parenting: The Road to Transforming an Overthinking Control Freak

All parents should know that he who knows patience knows peace. Chinese Proverb

 

My friend’s mother gave my husband and I a book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” a collection of bible verses, quotes and humorous statements about parenting.  When I first received the book, I read a few of the quotes and I immediately started to chuckle on the inside.  The quotes and statements reminded me that I am not the first parent to be driven crazy by a child who wouldn’t listen or the first to be so sleepy and delirious that my child ended up in the bed with me many more nights than not.  Parenting is a journey that will take you on a roller coaster higher and lower than any you can ever dream of. One of the lessons that I am learning as a fairly new parent is that this journey is not about just raising my son but transforming myself.

I am a very detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  I want things done a certain way, every time and I know that my way is best because I have thought or tried the alternatives and it has failed or looks like it will fail.  So when children come into your life and you are used to being hung up on the details, your entire method of daily living is derailed, in a good way. In the early days I have been dressed and ready to walk out the door and either my son would pee or release a poop that would seep out of his clothes and all the way up his back.  As he got older, I had to get him ready and then put him in a place that he wouldn’t move so that I could get ready.  That was the downside of him crawling, walking and then learning how to run!  And now we are at the point where we are tip toeing down the potty training road, so bathroom visits, extra pull ups and underwear are now our primary focus.  He understands now that when its time to go to get his shoes and backpack which helps but not having everything by the door causes me to run in and out and back in until finally I am exhausted and running too late to care about grabbing anything else.

Living in a city full of traffic, you have to be prepared at all times with snacks and planned places to stop to grab food if you are unable to get home before dinner time.  You have to leave early just in case there is an accident or a detour.  You have to know where to find the cheapest gas and when is the safest times to go.  You go from worrying about your own safety to protecting your child and their innocence at all times. For those without children, it may seem like I am being dramatic or over exaggerating, but in reality you cannot even put into words what it is to be a parent to a child, let alone more than one.  You get to watch this little being grow, learn and transform before your very eyes, but you also start to look in the mirror and see yourself changing into someone you weren’t a year or two ago.  You see yourself leaving baskets of laundry around the house because you don’t have the time to fold them perfectly and unmet edges are not going to cut it.  You see yourself scrapping tv time for outside play time and walks down the street to see your neighbors so your son can wave and make them smile.  You find yourself beating yourself up for raising your voice or getting upset, because now that you have calmed down you realized your child wasn’t being disobedient but just curious, as they should be.

You see yourself transforming from good to better.  I am a better person because I am a parent.  I am learning what is important in life and what is not worth the worry and the stress.  There is no perfect parent.  Successful children come from homes of varying socio-economic statuses, neighborhoods and parental make-ups.  Some parents are more hands on than others, some are great providers, while many others invest all of their time, attention and money into their child while putting their own dreams on hold.  Every parent can look back and think about things that they would have done differently, better or more.  In parenting, there is no beginning and there is no end.  There is a continuum of life and love that moves like the waves in the sea.  High tides and low tides.  Great moments and not so great moments.  But many lessons to be learned and shared with those around you, especially fairly new parents like me.

For me, my biggest challenge is to learn patience.  Over the years, God has tried to teach me in various ways, but I still reverted back to my impatient ways.  So one day he blessed me with a permanent lesson of patience.  I have failed many times at being that patient loving mom that I want to be, but I keep trying.  Every moment is a new test.  Every failure is a new lesson.  Positive parenting is not a task for me to use on my son, but for me to use on myself. Positive parenting is a journey to transform my mindset, myself, and my spirit.  God is working on me and he has already given me the reward for my future transformation.  My son is so sweet, smart and kind.  He is a loving child who is like most boys, busy and rambunctious.

My time away from him has given me time to review my parenting style and to cherish my job as a mother.  It is one of the most important and the one that pays the most. I always appreciate the wisdom of mothers who have been where I am.  Their words are affirming and encouraging.  I am placing my book on top of my dresser as a reminder and an outlet to look at when I am struggling with my patience.  We all have work to do.  Some work takes longer but I know this transformation won’t take a lifetime.  Soon I will be a more patient parent, detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  Because that is who I am.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.