An Anthropological Study: What Happens When Your Parents Are Your Teachers
By Megan on March 29th, 2012
As a child, I had a very unique upbringing in the sense that my parents weren’t just my parents, they were also my teachers. You see, my parents both worked at the school my siblings and I attended, and not only have they worked there for our entire educational experience, they met and fell in love—right there on the football field—in the summer of 1981.
Every day for 13 years, all five of us would pack up the station wagon, commute over an hour to school, spend the day together, then get back in the car and return home. Quality family time doesn’t really do it justice. Having my parents pervade my life at school had a distinct effect on me as a child. The experience proved to be at times comforting, mortifying, and mostly just plain awkward. But I know I’m not alone. There are other children out there who live with the parent-teacher perplexity every day, which is why I’ve comprised a list of ten take-aways I’ve learned from my years “in the field.” An anthropological study of sorts, if you will.
- You will endure countless “aha” moments, when students of your parents see them outside of school and realize 1. they’re normal people who live in a house, not at school, and do normal things like go to the grocery store, and 2. they’re married!? Weird! Seeing teachers in an off-campus environment is somehow a baffling experience for kids, especially young ones. By extension, my siblings and I were always a part of these puzzling revelations. Wait, that’s your MOM? You LIVE with Mrs. K?
- Playing hooky is out of the question, and just plain foolish.
- The holiday season brings an annual influx of baked goods, candy, and other miscellaneous gifts like apple paperweights and pencil-printed ties from students or parents. Every December there is a cookie-tin pileup on our kitchen counter, and I don’t hate it.
- Post-its. They’re everywhere.
- There are no secrets—no hiding bad grades, keeping that detention you got for a dress code violation, or the boy you hold hands with in the hall under wraps. Teachers talk, and they talk about you. Parent-teacher conferences are a moot point. Somehow my parents knew every move I made before I even made it.
- Most schools require teachers to chaperone extra-curricular activities like school dances and field trips, meaning my mother had to look on (to her horror and to mine) as my thirteen year-old friends danced awkwardly to loud music in a dark room.
- There are the inevitable moments when you confuse home with school and school with home, and what’s acceptable behavior in the respective spheres. In fifth period you might ask your mother what’s for dinner. Over dinner, you might ask your mother how much the extra credit assignment is worth.
- NPR, PBS, The History Channel. You get to know them well.
- Nepotism. It works both ways. You’re accused of getting the lead in the school musical because your mother is the music teacher and must have had a hand in it. Or, you didn’t get the lead in the school musical (though you were undeniably the most qualified and talented person to audition), because it wouldn’t haven been fair to give the part to the music teacher’s daughter. See?
- Mr. Hollands Opus will make you cry. Every time.