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The Secret World of Teachers

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I’m not a normal student, as I have very unique relationships with my teachers. I know some of their inside jokes, and joke around with them. I see them before the school day starts and long after it ends. I have been to some of their houses, upon occasion. I’ve been out to restaurants and nail salons with them. I see them in the summer. I readily help them before school starts, if they need it. I hear about their staff meetings, and what goes on at their parties. I know which teachers have kids, and if so, what their names are, as well as how old they are and what they like to do (this applies to dogs as well). Some of my teachers are family friends. Several of the teachers at my school (or my former school, anyway) have house-sat for us when we went on vacation. I am not a crazed girl with an obsession to stalk schoolteachers, nor am I some spy investigating The Case of the Tiramisu at the Christmas Party. I am a teacher’s daughter.

Through my mother, I am able to know my teachers better and more honestly. My mother first came to my school 15 years ago (from this September), when she was teaching second grade. That year, in May, my sister and I were born. As we were in the intensive care unit for months and even after that point required lots of care, she took the next five years off. Some of her teacher friends from school visited us in the hospital. When we went back to kindergarten, she came back as a Spanish teacher. She is outgoing and friendly, and is close to several of the teachers and members on the staff. For us, the teachers have been part of the background of our life.

They’re sort of like distantly-related family; you see them occasionally, and you enjoy spending time together, to some extent. For me, teachers have always been there; whether my mom needed help caring for us or the teachers wanted help, or if they were having a party. Note: it’s not a party unless you have M&M’s, I learned from a former teacher (apparently, I’ve never truly been to a party; my former teacher was quite disappointed). Through all of my years of being in my school, I have straddled the boundaries between student and assistant. I know some of my teachers as much as I know my extended family.

They, to me, are rather like companions, or acquaintances. I can be myself around them, and vice versa. With my mother’s coworkers, my siblings and I have a true sense of community. Upon occasion, older kids of other teachers have watched out for us, and we have done the same. If my family needs help in any way, my mom knows that some of the other teachers will always be ready to help her. I feel that because I am my mother’s daughter, I am able to truly know my teachers. I know what their favorite colors are, and what they like to do, as well as their personalities. I know that sometimes they lie, and get mad, mostly because of those who “hold a special place in their hearts” (in other words, drive the teachers absolutely crazy). Most of what we talk about doesn’t involve school, but rather daily life. Of course, I have never been surprised that teachers have lives outside of school; I had always known that.

Of course, being a teacher’s daughter doesn’t come without its downfalls. I think that every child of a teacher polices themselves more than the average kid. It’s not like I’ve ever wanted to be truly bad, but if I did, I would have surely noticed what was expected of me. I, at least, was expected to behave well, and be quiet generally, as well as to give my mother and other teachers their space. I never got in trouble as a child, though if I did, I know my teacher at the time would have talked to my mother. Children of teachers don’t often get in trouble, at least not when parent and child are at the same school; there is nothing that a teacher dislikes more than being reprimanded by their coworkers for their child’s bad behavior.

My siblings and I, as children of teachers, also spend more time at school than most kids, but I don’t mind it. Although it may seem boring to some, school wasn’t just a place of deadly-boring learning for me. It was also where I played games, and conversed, and played on the playground. Every autumn, I breathed in the freshly-painted, new-year smell lingering in the halls, and remembered that I loved my school. At school, I felt truly at home.

Being a teacher’s daughter, I also get information about various public-service announcements earlier than the rest of the school. It is anything from which of the staff members are getting married, to who is leaving this year, and who will be having a baby. Those comments, delivered to me by my mom, are always prefaced by a, “Don’t say anything!” My mom also hosts the teacher parties, which for a long time she called “choir practice”. Once, after a choir practice, I asked her what songs she sang, and she told me that it was the code for a teacher gathering. She gave up on using a code name soon after that. After everyone leaves, we sit down, and she regales us with stories from the night, most of which are humorous. Of course, the rest of our family usually tries to escape the gatherings, but when we do come back, we are generally well-received.

There are some downsides to being a teacher’s offspring, though. For example, I am sometimes in awkward relationships with some of my mother’s peers, simply due to one reason or another. Similarly, I assist teachers very frequently, doing anything from moving stuff, helping them organize their rooms, or correcting some of their papers. I also have to be very careful about what I say to both teachers and students. I can’t start talking badly about other students or teachers to my mother’s colleagues, not that I would, of course, nor can I mention what happens at teacher gatherings, or anything of that sort, to my friends. There’s a thin line between acceptable and too much, and I’m always pretty aware of it. I don’t really rant to my peers about my mom, as I don’t want them to think badly of her. It’s also rather funny when some of my friends come over to my house, as they are then associating with their former Spanish teacher. I’ve always noticed the fact that I’m a student at my mother’s school, and sometimes, I notice it more than usual. A few years ago, I heard a girl say she didn’t like my mom (I didn’t take it personally, though). In addition, I find that sometimes I can’t talk to my mom when I’m having troubles or frustrations with teachers at school, as it wouldn’t be “in her place” to reprimand them. Of course, I totally understand when that’s the case. It’s one of those rarely-talked-about, or almost unspoken, rules.

Of course, as a teacher’s daughter, I have a bit more power than the rest of my friends. That doesn’t mean, however, that I choose to use it. Yes, I could totally gossip and use my power to my advantage, but I don’t. There was a girl in my class who did, though. She was the former principal’s daughter. She gossiped and was “popular” and lied frequently. I harbored a secret dislike of her for years. Her father was unwilling to take responsibility for her mistakes, and so she got away with everything. She disliked most teachers, including my mother. She would hang around my mom’s classroom, gossiping, as I simply tried to finish my math homework. It was pretty safe to say that we weren’t really on the same page. As you may have guessed, we were never friends. From her, I learned only that she was exactly who I didn’t want to be. While I prided myself on how my peers didn’t treat me any differently because my mom taught at our school, she always took advantage of her father’s power.

I have spent nine years at my mother’s school, and in that time, I learned to love it. My mother was a big part of my life, and so her school was as well. I also became more appreciative and knowledgeable of her colleagues. Though I will be leaving them this fall for high school, my mother and her coworkers will still remain a part of my memories and life.





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