Why Bother Caring?

Why Bother Caring?

I just finished one of the more grueling weeks of public school teaching. Our school district requires that we have parent teacher conferences every November, and these last five days were filled to the brim. After a day of teaching, I sat at a table in my classroom in the evenings, conferring with parents, grandparents, and even some great grandparents about their children, who are also my students. Though depleted from teaching all day, parent teacher conferences are enlightening and heart changing. 

A Child’s Life

No two children come from the same kind of home and talking with parents, I get a glimpse into the home life of each of my students. Though all children have two parents, there are no guarantees those parents are fully functioning, present, and committed to their child’s best interests. 

Some parents are divorced, and share custody, but not the responsibilities of making sure their offspring make it to school. Other parents have abandoned their children all together, leaving them in the care of  grandparents and sometimes even the great grandparents. Some students are homeless, and others come from single parent homes.  

Then, there are the few students who do come from two parent homes. But even the two parent homes have their share of misfortunes; the blending of two families, the struggles of a long term illness, or financial difficulties. 

My students, whether from the best or worst of homes, all share the same teacher, me. I have the privilege of spurring each of them toward their best potential, something I perceive even if they do not. I want them to succeed, and to see the value of their learning. I want them to persevere even when the work seems too hard and I want them to stay the course and finish well. My job is rewarding, but also a little heartbreaking. I am not sure my caring is enough for them. 

Then I remember the one teacher who spurred me on, Mr. Dupay, my biology teacher. I was a sophomore in high school, barely passing any of my classes and toying with the idea of dropping out of school. I didn’t think I was smart enough to graduate. But Mr. Dupay saw my potential and put me in charge of the green house. He trusted me to take care of the plants, and to record data from the various experiments he had going on. He tapped into something I could do, trusted me with responsibilities and I excelled in his class. 

It only takes one person with a little perception, one person who is willing to listen, one person whose heart is tender enough to care, to make a big difference in the life of another. 

Why bother caring? It is worth it to care because we never know when our influence will spur someone toward discovering their ability to succeed.

Why Bother Honoring Our Parents?

Why Bother Honoring Our Parents?

We do not choose our parents, nor do parents get to select their children. Instead, parents and offspring start off their relationship with each other as strangers, eventually growing and forming into a family unit. Over the course of time, and rather quickly, parents discover their child’s particular bents, personalities and idiosyncrasies. Even before a baby can speak any words, they can communicate to their parents what they are afraid of, what calms and soothes them as well as their preferences for food. Stubborn, or carefree personalities are easy for parents to detect in their offspring as well as any lackadaisical or lazy tendencies.  Parents also understand that among their offspring, no two are the same, rather, each one is a unique and separate individual. In other words, children are an open book. Parents, on the other hand, are a different story.  

The Life of a Parent

I became cognizant of my siblings and their individual personalities and quirks long before I became aware of my mother’s or my father’s. I needed to know my siblings well in order to survive. My oldest brother, I quickly surmised, was the one to avoid. His anger was dangerous. I steered clear of my youngest brother as well. He wore diapers and required someone else to feed him, something I was unwilling to do. My three older sisters were a world unto their own, playing records on the record player and wearing rollers in their hair. My safest sibling was my brother, who was just slightly older than me, never minded me tagging along with him when he rode his bike or played kickball in a neighbor’s backyard. 

In birth order, I am the sixth of seven and I am not sure how my mother felt about having yet another child. I know my oldest sister grew tired of all the babies which arrived on a fairly regular basis and at one point threatened to run away if Mom brought another one home. 

I could access my dad easier than my mom. He sat down more often. I would find him sitting on the front porch swing smoking an after dinner cigarette and he never hindered me from snuggling next to him or crawling onto his lap. 

As for my mom, she ran the house so she was mostly on the run. She was not the snuggling type. Though she had a few close friends, her personality lent itself to privacy. And though small in stature, she knew how to put her offspring in their place with “the look” and few words. 

I knew about the lives my parents lived when they were young. I knew my dad was a veteran from WWII, but I did not know how much of a toll the war took on him. I knew he loved to listen to music as well as watch a good rain storm, but I did not know how he battled with depression. I knew Mom loved to dance, laugh, and drink scotch and soda in the evenings.  

I knew these things about my parents, but my parents knew me better. They knew my stubbornness, vulnerabilities, fears and idiosyncrasies. They knew I was unique and never compared me to any of my other siblings. They saw my life unfold and watched me move forward, and grow up.  As parents, they gave me the best of themselves. 

So why bother honoring our parents? Whether dead or alive, our parents are worth respecting. They gave us life and showed us how to live, to the best of their knowledge.