Nothing can prepare you for parenthood…except teaching. Teaching totally prepares you for having children. I babysat through my teen years, worked at a daycare in college, taught elementary school and taught movement/gymnastics/dance/yoga to babies and preschoolers. I loved those jobs and always felt I was learning a lot, but holy cow, I did not realize just how much they taught me until having Luna.
Here’s my Top Ten Ways Being a Teacher Prepared Me for Parenthood.
- I have absolutely no problem looking a fool in public. I cannot tell you how many times I left work (school) wearing stickers on my shirt, pipe cleaner jewelry, flowers in my hair, paint on my face, a costume, random stains, name tags and tacky holiday accessories. There were many times when I wondered why the store clerk or Starbuck’s barista was starting oddly at me, only to look in the mirror in find I was still wearing a Dr. Seuss hat or necklace made of yarn and candy wrappers. Clearly, a little spit-up or mashed carrots on my shirt now is nothing.
- I am not afraid of germs or getting a little (or a lot) dirty. Throughout my teaching career I had to deal with blood, vomit, urine and one kid even pooped under his desk. Kids let entire bottles of glue leak in their desk, dumped glitter containers out, rubbed entire tubes of chapstick all over their face and somehow always managed to have sticky hands. I cannot tell you how many kids I watch pick and eat their boogers and I know 90% of them didn’t wash their hands, like ever. They also wanted to hold my hands, hug me and share food with me constantly. I tried to be as sanitary as possible, but we all know teachers are just one big walking germ. Luna is just one child and she’s my child, so her germs are the least of my worries.
- I am an awesome multi-tasker. In my classroom I lead a reading group, corrected a math paper, kept on eye on the trouble maker near my computer and the other eye on the little girl about to give herself a haircut. At any given moment every single teacher is doing 15 things at once, and we all have eyes in the back of our heads. This comes in handy with a baby.
- I’m crafty. I can create 20 center activities with $10 and a trip to the Dollar Store. I can make play costumes for an entire class in a matter of hours. I know how to put together a safe, easy and affordable science project that will not only be educational but memorable and I can turn one children’s book into a weeklong reading/social studies/math/writing lesson. I can entertain Luna with a spoon for hours.
- I can function really well on virtually no sleep (and a whole lot of coffee). Coffee is some sort of magical bean that makes us super human, am I right? One student called me Super Woman once, but it was really just me plus 8 cups of coffee.
- I can tune out just about anything. One time, Husband came to visit me at work (probably dropping off something I forgot). He stayed and visited for a minute and walked with us to recess. When I got home he said “How do you stand it?” Stand What? “I was only there 15 minutes and I must have heard kids say your name at least 400 times! Everywhere we went someone was yelling for you, needing you or saying hi to you. It would drive me crazy.” Oh…guess I didn’t notice. At some point all teachers and Mothers develop selective hearing. This can be both good and bad when Luna is crying.
- If need be, I can get ready in the blink of an eye. Typically, I like to take my time doing my hair and putting my face on for work, but when you teach you cannot be late. There’s not such thing as showing up a few minutes late and working later to make up for your missed time. You have got to make it to your classroom before the 24 seven-year olds do. On more than a few occasions I have jumped out of bed after realizing I overslept by an hour, threw on a non-wrinkle cotton dress, some slip-on flats, grabbed a handful of jewelry and applied mascara and lip-gloss in the car.
- I can hold my pee for basically ever, which has already come in handy multiple times since having Luna.
- I am a wealth of knowledge when it comes to children’s books and songs. Seriously, I have a song and a book for everything from compound words to patriotism. Luna has inherited my classroom library and, unfortunate for her, my endless singing about everything we do.
- I am oh-so patient with little ones. Not in traffic, not in the grocery store, not with Comcast, not with the pets, not even with the slow barista at Starbucks, but with children I’ve got all the patience in the world. I love watching their little wheels turn as they try so hard to solve a problem or understand what they’re reading. Watching that little light turn on when they discover something new is my most favorite thing.
What prepared you for becoming a parent?