Someone’s Daughters

Baby Hair

You think you’re grown-up. The hastily wiped-off lip gloss and false eyelashes that I confiscated before assembly beg the world to see it – but you’re not quite there. I can see the pudgy toddler cheeks hiding beneath the look of slight disdain. In place of perfectly arranged ‘scruffy’ buns, I can see where, once, there were bunches.

I wonder if you still let your mothers help with your hair – if they brush it and braid it and stroke it when you’re sleeping. Or if you roll your eyes and scoff at the mere suggestion. I wonder if that makes them sad.

My little girl’s hair is just starting to curl at the nape of her neck – it’s just getting long enough to start putting up.

I wonder if your mothers and fathers glimpse the traces of their little girls, of those first curls, behind the lip-gloss and teenage hormones, and question where the years went.

The class is reading aloud. Thirty girls, waiting their turn, some anxious, some eager. All must read just a little – a line or two. Some of them are confident, clear. Others mumble, skip past the words they are not sure of, reading only a little before stopping. One of them is really struggling, voice cracking – I can hear the worry and uncertainty in her voice. The rest are not watching, but I can see how hard it is, see the way her mouth twists, her eyes glaze. She reads well, but she is so nervous. She reminds me of my boy.

I imagine him, reading in class, struggling. I imagine his voice cracking, his eyes glazing as he struggles to contain his fear. I imagine being a fly on the wall in his classroom. What would I want his teacher to do?

“We’ll stop there. Excellent reading Z-. Well done.” I move to the board to start something else, casting a backward glance. I see the relief, the quick look round to make sure others haven’t noticed that you are nearly in tears. I make a mental note to make sure I give you another piece of praise before the end of the lesson. I hope it is enough.

I know your mother would want to squeeze you, hold you tight. Tell you that you are her brilliant, wonderful girl and that you read so beautifully, that you shouldn’t be nervous and that you are so, so brave to overcome your fear and read anyway.

But I am not your mother. And so I tell you that you have made an excellent effort today, well done, as you leave the classroom. And I hope it is enough.

I always used to find parents’ evenings very stressful, before I was a mother. I never seemed to find the right way to start off. I would prepare – prepare beyond sense and reason – memorise grades, have folders at the ready, check and double check the SEN info and targets. But somehow, I never quite knew the right tone to take, especially with the more challenging students. And so I would start with the most obvious…

So-and-so is doing very well… I am afraid So-and-so is not putting in enough effort…

Now I see where I went wrong. Because, you see, most of you are someone’s world. The people sitting just a few feet away, love you more than life. I think of the parents’ evenings in my future, the ones where I will be on the other side of the desk. I try to imagine my daughter’s teenage face, anxious or affectedly casual in anticipation of the judgement that is about to come, like your faces. I think about how I want my children’s teachers to treat them, to talk about them, the loves of my life – and the words come. They are not perfect. But they are careful, kind. They try to say that I have paid attention, that I know you, before the judgement comes.

And I hope it is enough.

Being a parent has changed my perspective on teaching; even when you are cruel – when you refuse to obey, slam doors, tell me you can’t stand me – I see the front of maturity that masks the scared child behind. I pick my battles more carefully. I am firmer when I should be, kinder when I can be.

And I hope it is enough.

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34 thoughts on “Someone’s Daughters

  1. It is interesting how our whole perspective on life changes when we become a parent. We suddenly see the world a whole new way and we will never again be so naive. My daughter’s are 11 and 9, my son 6. They are my world. A mother’s love is so encompassing, I do still see Aspen’s first curls, her sweet face and button nose when I look at her now, but I also see she is staring to grow up and I wish I could keep her as innocent as she still is (she is young for her age). I am excited to see her grow, but apprehensive as well. You have a lovely blog xx

  2. Wow what an amazing teacher you are, this was such a beautifully written post and so interesting too. I hope that my daughter has a teacher like you when she starts in September, I am so nervous about handing her over each day!! Lovely post, thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

    1. I don’t know about that! But thank you 😊 Being a mother has definitely changed the way I interact with pupils. I hope she loves it and everything goes smoothly. Thanks for commenting ☺

  3. It’s amazing how the way we see those we teach changes when we become parents ourselves. I am a sahm now but when I was still teaching after having my first son I became a real softy and always referred to my student as ‘my kids’. To be honest I think it made me a better teacher. I love this post and think it is beautifully written. #bigpinklink

    1. Thanks so much for such a lovely comment 😊 Being a parent has definitely improved some aspects of my teaching! x

  4. I LOVE this – such a beautiful thought provoking read and that part about the girl reading and her mummy just wanting to squeeze her – just so true and so much more understandable and relatable to you now as a mother. A fantastic post #BIGPINKLINK

  5. I am sure we see the world in a whole new light when we become parents. It was interesting to read how your experience of being a parent has changed the way you teach. It is a reflection on what a thoughtful and caring teacher you are. #KCACOLS

  6. What a thoughtful (and beautifully written) post. It captures so wonderfully what it is to be a parent trusting your child to a teacher that it made me cry (my older daughter is in Year 1). I am sure being taught by you must be a very positive experience.

    1. Thank you so much. I hope it’s not too bad but I’m by no means perfect. Thanks for such a lovely comment 😊

  7. Oh this made me well up!! I don’t ever want my girl to grow up! Or my boy but the world doesn’t seem quite as scary for boys. Or maybe I’m just remembering my teenage years! I think that everything does change as a parent. News stories pierce my heart much deeper now I understand the strength of love you have for your child. The note made me laugh though! Thanks for linking up with us! #bigpinklink

    1. Thank you! The note was soooo upsetting at the time but I can definitely see the funny side now! ☺

  8. I wish every teacher took this responsibility so seriously. As parents, we really are putting a lot of trust in other people that are going to be spending just as much, if not more, time with them than we are. Great post. It really is amazing the way our perspectives on just about everything change

  9. Just about in tears reading this. What a beautiful post. I’m already thinking about those evenings with my boys, and the eldest doesn’t even start school until September! This is wonderful. #KCACOLS

  10. I’ve just read this with tears in my eyes, it’s so wonderfully written. I hope my children are lucky enough to have teachers like you as they go through the school system. x #KCACOLS

  11. A lovely post Danielle, I really hope my son’s teachers are as kind and compassionate as you are. Your students are lucky to have you #KCACOLS xx

  12. Oh I really enjoyed reading this – you sound like an amazing teacher! My son is in Year 1 and it comforts me a little to know that there are teachers out there like you!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

    1. Most teachers are really nervous and probably prepare a bit of a script – so they can come across like that! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚

  13. The education system would be so incredibly better if it had more teachers like you. This is so beautifully written, and it truly is so crazy how becoming parents completely changes our entire outlook on life. It creates an empathy in you that you never knew existed, and you have just put that into words wonderfully! #KCACOLS

  14. Such a beautiful post Danielle. I love it and it is really nice to see how being mother has made you a better teacher. It has so much sense really. I think this can be applied to anything as we parents just have a complete change of feelings and views when we have children. You are a wonderful teacher and it would be nice to have more teachers like you out there. Thanks so much sharing this at #KCACOLS.

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