As a mum of two teenagers, one of whom has recently passed her driving test, it’s not uncommon for me to lie awake worrying about them. Thinking about where they are, who they’re with and whether I’ve given them enough tools in their backpack to make ‘smart’ choices.
All the while knowing that the flipside of that, is that in order for them to to grow and learn, they’ve got to make mistakes and fall down, fall out with mates, have their heart broken and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it, other than be there for them when the inevitable happens. And I’d be lying if I said that it didn't affect me emotionally.
No-one told me that I’d feel things for these little humans that I struggle to put into words sometimes. No-one told me that I’d love and care for them in a way that I’d only ever seen be portrayed in the movies and no-one told me that for the most part, it would never be reciprocated in the same way. Not because they’re heartless little douche bags but because they’re not (and neither should they be) wired to think or feel like that, especially during their teenage years.
Then it dawned on me.
If I feel like that about two people that are in ‘my care’, that I spend (in my mind) a lot of time with, how the heck do teachers feel?!
They are responsible for hundreds of kids over the years, they arguably spend more time with them than their own parents and are well and truly emotionally attached to each and everyone of them. They’d have to be. You couldn’t do that job and not be.
I remember one teacher telling me how they had to file a report to child services about one of their students and years on, they still wonder if they could have done more to protect them.
Another teacher who is completely hardwired to spot the signs of self harming in kids, having seen so much of it over the years.
So how do they separate themselves?
The answer is, they don’t.
Teachers emotionally support over 100 kids each day and have nowhere to put that emotional baggage. They worry about their students at night and on the weekends just as much as in the classroom.
So let’s be real and find some empathy for our teachers, because in the same way that we as parents need a healthy way to carry the emotional burden that comes with parenting, teachers do too when it comes to supporting their students.