Thirty Days of Caemon–Day Three: Teaching the Teacher

From Jodi

I have written that Caemon made me a better person by simply being here. I think that’s fairly common for new parents. Well, it is true for me, anyway. In order to be a good mom, I had to be more energetic, positive, creative, patient, and present than I had ever been before. I was, let’s just say “rough around the edges” before he came along. There’s a reason for that, but once my son was born, it didn’t seem to matter so much because when he arrived, it felt like I had waited my entire life to become the person he would require me to be. It was a challenge, but he was so very worth it. His influence on me extended beyond our home and my role as mother, though. He actually made me a better teacher, and that’s what I want to focus on today.

I am a born teacher. It’s practically the only thing I do well. Yet, the nine years I taught before Caemon was born dim in comparison to the teacher I became when he entered my life. I found myself teaching more from the heart instead of just from my head. I connected with students on a more personal level, and they noticed. They felt that I cared about them, and it made them want to try harder. My teaching persona morphed into a more accessible and compassionate mentor. I dropped the aloofness, let them know me a bit better, and created curriculum around topics and ideas that I thought would help them, both personally and academically.

They came to me in droves, poured out their hearts, and reminded me how vulnerable and earnest they really are. I started thinking of them as individuals rather than an indiscernible collective. I no longer hide my orientation or the gender of my spouse, and there has been zero blowback. That’s because young people are way cooler than their stuffy elders. I dig that about them. They have also been amazing to me in the aftermath of Caemon’s death. Some of them attended his memorial service; they have volunteered at blood drives and signed up on the marrow registry. They attend the Light the Night Walk for Team Caemon and donate books to the book drive.

His legacy touches and inspires my students both directly and through me. I’m so grateful to him for that, for showing me what I could be. I know that when I look back on this period in my life, I will always see it as an amazing transformation possible because of him, my beautiful, wise little teacher.

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And now I (Timaree) would like to share a story. Caemon watched his Mama get ready to go to school every day of the school year, and being the observant boy that he was, he developed some very strong ideas about what it meant for Mama to “go teaching.” She would gather her computer bag, her keys, and her coffee, put on her jacket (and often a scarf), and she would head out the door after a kiss goodbye. Beyond that, Caemon wasn’t sure what she did, but it was, to him, the ultimate grownup thing to do.

Like any small child, Caemon wanted to emulate his Mama, so one morning, he started a routine after Jodi left in the morning. He told me that he needed to go teaching. He gathered his things in the extra laptop (a book, a banana) and also his coffee and his keys. Then, he retrieved his jacket, asked me to zip it up, and he then gathered his scarf and asked me to tie it like Mama’s. When he was ready, he told me he was ready to go teaching, and he stood by the front door of the house, ready for his kiss goodbye. He then proceeded to the kitchen where he would “drive” by placing his keys into various cabinets, making driving sounds.

When he finally arrived at his destination (the sliding door in the kitchen), he would sit on the floor behind a curtain, eat a banana, and drink his coffee. This, to him, was “going teaching,” and every last bit of it melted these teacher moms’ hearts. 

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