She had no idea how to be an adult so she went back to school.

Some teachers have an ulterior motive – they just want to grow up.

‘Miss? Why did you want to be a teacher?’

Most teachers are able to confidently and sincerely answer this question by offering some variation of, ‘I have always wanted to be a teacher. I like seeing my students blossom and mature into young adults. I love that I was able to be on that journey with them.’

But… there is a small minority of teachers who cannot answer this question so confidently. These teachers had an ulterior motive. These teachers became teachers because they simply didn’t have anything else to do or anywhere else to go, but back to school.

I hate to admit it, but I became a teacher to ‘grow up’. And what would be the best place to do this? School of course. What is more grown-up than a teacher?

I was 26 when I made this decision and I was still living in a ridiculous rental property with my brother. There was mould bloom climbing the shower walls and a row of geranium skeletons guarding the front door. The neighbours were questionable. On one side were the standard geriatrics with signs on their nature strip that read, ‘No parking on lawn’. On the other side was a state housing joint that was home to about fifteen people and every couple of weeks or so a brand new car would be parked out on their lawn. It would invariably be obliterated within days by one of the many snot nosed children running about. (One morning I got up and saw one of the aforementioned children standing on the bonnet gleefully widdling through the smashed in windscreen and onto the front seats of the car.)

I had a degree, but was instead waitressing in a budget hotel under the watchful eye of Ursula (real name), the evil restaurant manager. (She could have been sixty or one hundred and sixty. It was hard to tell because she looked like a mummified corpse, all bones and wrinkles.) My friends had all secured respectable sounding graduate positions as a Parliamentary Officers or Property Managers or Project Officers and had settled down with their ‘partners’ (when does a boyfriend graduate from ‘boyfriend’ to ‘partner’? Is it an age thing? Or is the ‘partner’ required to perform some sort of exam that elevates his/her position? Or is it simply a matter of establishing a joint bank account?).

My parents added to my crisis by ringing up with all sorts of helpful information, ‘Remember John? John from school? Well, he’s doing well for himself. He’s just bought a property overlooking the harbour.’ ‘Bumped into Melanie the other day, she’s got two boys now.’ ‘Did I tell you about Stacey? My Stacey? She’s engaged now.’

So my idea of what a grown up was, was largely formed from what my parents and friends taught me. This is what I learned:


A grown up woman settled down with a nice boy she met after a few flings at University (which are never to be mentioned again). They lived in three bedroom brick and tile, purchased with a First Home Owner’s Grant, in an up and coming suburb. The house would be tastefully decorated with a few key pieces from IKEA and some select travel mementos (to show their sophistication): an elephant statue from Thailand, a picture of the happy couple astride a camel, a piece of Indigenous art. There would be a crystal bowl filled with useless stones positioned on the dining room table and a big feature pot next to the front door.

A grown up woman owned grown up appliances like a Thermo-mix, a Nespresso machine and a blender.

A grown up woman ignored fashion and wore boot-cut jeans and cotton t-shirts.

A grown up woman doesn’t dream of being a novelist, or actress, or gymnast.

A grown up woman window shopped for engagement rings and attended baby showers.

A grown up woman did not have one night stands, pregnancy scares and STI tests. She did not dream of being a novelist or an actress or wish she’d been allowed to take gymnastic lessons so she could be an acrobat for Cirque de Soleil.

So I capitulated. I had a mid-twenties crisis and enrolled for a Graduate Diploma in Education and became a teacher. It offered generous superannuation benefits, job security and I would get to wear cloppy sounding shoes that would sound intimidating as I walked down the corridor (a very necessary teaching skill). I would be a grown up.

However, I quickly learned that the teaching profession is riddled with lost souls (who are exactly like me) and have no idea how to be an adult ,and so go back to a place they know well. School.

Here are a few examples:

The 38-year-old Phys Ed teacher wandering around with a blow-dried One Direction haircut.

Actually, any teacher who is a Phys Ed teacher. I also want to know how the female Phys Ed teachers get away with wearing Lycra hot pants in the guise of athletic wear.

The 40-year-old desperately single Head of English who, in spite of a lack of groom, has already chosen her engagement ring (2.5 caret white gold princess cut) and is convinced that every date she goes on is a potential husband. She went on one coffee date with a dentist and when he never called her back she sobbed, ‘But I thought this was the beginning of the end.’ How? It was one date. And it was a coffee date not a dinner date, so that should have been your first clue that it wasn’t going anywhere.


The 30-something Deputy Principal who continues to post pouty selfies of herself on Facebook in a startling array of boob tubesIn my opinion, no one over 21 should ever attempt a boob tube.

The other Deputy Principal who lost his rag and called the entire year 12 cohort ‘a bunch of f**king c**ts’.

The 50-year-old Biology teacher who continues to relive his footy days, ‘I know Sumich and Jako and all those blokes. I was gunna get drafted before I tore me hammy’ and insists on using the footy vernacular at all times, ‘Lookin’ good Huddo.’ ‘Browny, how are we today?’ ‘Burnzy, didja catch the game?’ ‘C’mon crew, let’s keep things tight. We’re on the home stretch now.’

Some teachers should be required to wear one of these.

The same-year-old Biology teacher who delights in sexual innuendo, ‘Hello ladies. Just youse girls and me today. A ménage a trios?’ and seeks constant reaffirmation that he still looks twenty five, ‘Can you believe I’m actually fifty?’ Actually yes. Think the receding hairline and the leftover purple hair from the dodgy dye job gave you away.

The English teacher who was charged with disorderly conduct after the cops caught him relieving himself in a lane way next to a nightclub.

All those teachers roaming around wearing a Year 12 Leavers jacket. You’re not in year 12 and you’re clearly not leaving any time soon.

Me? I am just as big a culprit as the rest. At school I was the nerdy kid who hid out in the library to avoid the bullies and spent a vast quantity of her day daydreaming about something better. These daydreams were largely furnished by bits and pieces I read about in novels or from the illicit stack of Dolly magazines situated at the back of the library.

I still avoid the bullies (mainly from the Maths Department) and hide in my office during the all-staff morning tea (I usually use the excuse that I have photocopying to do, or detention with a kid). And I still spend a lot of the day fantasising about being an acrobat/cabaret singer/actress/tabloid journalist and ignoring more pressing adult concerns such as: paying my phone bill on time, renewing my health insurance or getting the car serviced (there’s a strange squealing sound going on and at the moment I’m just turning up the radio so I can forget about it).

I became a teacher to grow up, but instead found myself back in the playground.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous