‘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: