A Day at a Time

An Apple for the Teacher.

An Apple for the Teacher. (Photo credit: rubyblossom.)

Dad and sisters 75th birthdayIf he had lived, my Dad would have turned 100 this week. At one time, Dad was the apple of his parents eyes, their only son. Given his parents indulgence of him, his five sisters all held strong opinions about him both favorable and unfavorable.

Dad did not do anything remarkable over the course of his life, and given the breaks available to the men of his generation, he failed to take advantage of much that came his way, a reality which left my Mom gravely disappointed.

Partly, his failures were his own fault. He had a chilly personality according to some (my Mom). Despite his shortcomings, Dad managed to get himself elected to the office of president of various organizations, such as the Lion’s Club in our town, and, he became a high ranking member of the Knights of Columbus. I suspect his roles in these organizations had more to do with his willingness to work like a dog, however. Both he and my Mom were heavily involved in civic and religious causes of one kind or another..too many to list here.

Over the course of his work career, Dad was a government worker, self employed with his own small business, and worked for a large corporation. His fortunes rose and fell as he involved himself with one unscrupulous fellow after another. He had no sense of understanding when it came to smooth talking con artists. Nor did he understand what was good for him or his family.

I wish I could say he was a good parent, but he had little sense where childrearing was involved. I know my mother tried, but after a half dozen years of living a peripatetic life with my dad, several pregnancies, and an unstable econmic situation, her mental and physical health gave way, and she was no longer the best parent. As the oldest child, I got five good years, but my sister and brother had much less.

How did I even have a chance in this life?  Mostly, I owe whatever I got from life to teachers (both male and female) and to my Aunt Marge (also a teacher) who took me under their various wings over the course of my life. In every grade but one, I can think of a teacher who helped me make it through one crises or another.

Many of them are gone now, I see their obits in the paper from time to time. Sadly, many of us have never let our teachers know what profound good they did in our  individual lives. So here’s to teachers, mine and others. I know many of you feel burned out at the end of your careers, but you did much good along the way,  and don’t you ever forget it.

20 thoughts on “A Day at a Time

  1. I’ve got insomnia tonight. I’m exhausted from so much going on right now. It felt good to read your post. I like to think we all made a difference as teachers. I’m sorry your young years were so difficult. Take good care of yourself, Dianne. I’ll catch up in a month or so.

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  2. insightful post and comments. I had wonderful parents and uncles and aunts. Couldn’t get away with much. But they always had so much going on that not wanting to miss out on the excitement usually outweighed chasing the excitement of creative mischief.

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  3. I, too, had wonderful parents, like Gabbygeezer, and always realize how lucky I was when I read comments like yours or some of your commentors. Also, that is a nice commentary about the teachers. I believe that the ones I treasured are all dead.

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  4. I’ve started this several times but still can’t express what I think might have been the reason our parents – those born in the very early years of the 20 th century – were not very good at being parents. Just coming into their own another problem arrived on the horizon in the form of WW2 and that meant lots of single parent households – mothers trying to mind children with husbands away goodness knows where – no wonder they were stressed and touchy when fathers finally came home again.
    I’m a first born – a war baby born in England during 1942 – my first years were very different to my sister’s who was born in 1947 – the way my mother related to me was very very different to her and later siblings. All these years later it still hurts!

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    • The pain of childhood never ends and for many of us outweighs any good memories completely. I think part of the problem was the lousy 20th century with wars and depression, but the rest of it was a carryover from the nineteenth century when children were treated abominably compared with these days when we live in a ‘child-centered’ universe, or so some would have us believe.

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  5. Like parents, there are good teachers and bad ones. My sister says I had a different set of parents than she and my brother had. I came along late in my parents’ life when they were much better off economically and much more stable. My sister is 17 years older and my brother was 20 years older than me. I am very much different than my siblings.

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    • Financial stability and education go a long way toward improving the lot of children. I have heard more than one person say they thought parents treated older kids more severely than younger kids, and social science research supports the idea that birth order plays a role in life’s experiences..

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  6. My parents were wonderful, so I feel badly for all who did not have that experience. Your thoughts on teachers are exactly the same as mine. I had several who played positive roles in shaping my life, and I will never forget them. Good teachers deserve high honor and more pay that frugal legislators are willing to give them.

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    • Many teachers are not well treated by many “tax-paying” constituents and politicians, and that must change or we will lose the good ones. On the other hand, much must change in the education system as it stands today. This includes 1/ over-regulation by the federal government and the resulting paperwork burden; 2/ parent expectations concerning the role of teachers; and 3/ unreasonable demands for benefits by teacher unions. A thorny topic indeed.

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  7. What’s interesting is that you have a very different opinion than me of Aunt Marge. I always thought she was cold and unapproachable. She scared me! But I was the youngest and she never seemed to have time for young kids, again my opinion. My mom raised 8 kids but I also feel she was kind of cold and maybe it was how they were raised?? She is still hanging in there at 96 but sadly doesn’t have much memory these days for who is who, etc. I always felt my dad was much warmer and closer to me than my mom, but I don’t blame her for how she was, that’s just who she was. I love getting your perspective on things since we were raised by siblings but very different life experiences, etc……
    Love, Your Cuz, LOIS

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    • My dad and your mom were cold and difficult at times for sure, and raised by a mother (Edna) who was VERY strict. However grandma indulged my dad as the only boy, and having had all that indulgence, he was a first class MCP where my mom was concerned. You are fortunate you had loving older sibs who took care of you. BTW my mom thought your dad was great.Also, Grandpa S was terrific and funny too. Best of all, he held a steady job with the RR for 50+ years,where my dad could not stick with anything.

      Aunt Marge could be crusty, but she was a positive influence on my life, and she and David got along quite well. Yes, I guess she scared little you and Paul too. She was vey close to Aunt Rosie’s kids, especially Anne.

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  8. Nice homage to your teachers — but just maybe you’re being a little hard on your dad? My own folks were not the best parents; but they were wonderful people in their own way and I think they did the best they could.

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    • Hard on my dad? No, I am not hard enough, but that is water over the dam. I wish I had fond memories, but I don’t. You are correct, they did the best they could, but it wasn’t good enough, and I deserved better.

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  9. Exercise: Just don’t do what I did and over do it at the start. LOL

    Teachers. No one knew a thing about Learning Disabilities in those days. What a struggle I had and oh boy how I must have driven my teachers mad. I still remember Mrs. Madigan in Jr. High, and two or three teachers in High School. As an adult, I consider many of my friends also my teachers. Hugs.

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    • No danger of me ‘overdoing’ it. Walked up and down the street today. Begin physical therapy at the hospital tomorrow.
      We know so much more about children’s needs today.
      Yes, our teachers come in many guises.Sometimes they look like children.

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