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I Have To Be Honest, I Am Not A Teacher

I am not a teacher. Even as a child, I never pretended to be a teacher or anything that had to do with direct interaction with people, especially children. It’s not that I am uncaring, it’s just that even as a child, I always knew and understood my limitations. I had one best friend that also didn’t care for other kids so we were perfect for each other.

With everything that is going on right now, as we all work from home with the kids, every parent must play multiple roles; parent, employee, teacher, referee, etc. To further add insult to injury, I have two boys nearly nine years apart(ages 13 and 4) that fight like cats and dogs. To be fair, some of their fights are simply siblings just being siblings. We all wrestle and test limits but the little one is something else. Life with my little one can go one of two ways, we become great stars from the show we produce about his shenanigans or this mama catches a case because he will not say still or sit down for a second.

I May Catch A Case (This Kid Is So Bad!)

Okay let’s be clear, my husband and I do not hit our kids – though that is how we were raised. You see, we are both first-generation born in the US from our Caribbean families, and life was much different in the 70s, 80s, and 90s when we were coming up. A big part of us wants to “darle una mano de chancleta” (spank with a slipper) and keep it moving. That is frowned upon in the US, however, the threat remains (what does a 4-year-old know about child welfare laws?). An all too common conversation in our home has been:

Husband: This belt has your name on it.

Little one: (walks over and inspects the belt) I don’t see my name on it.

Husband: Bring me a pen to write your name on it.

Little one runs to the living room, finds a pen and hands it to his father. He attempts to write his name while the little one taunts him.

Little one: My name is not on the belt. I don’t see my name on the belt… You said my name is on the belt.

As a witness, all I can do is laugh, I wasn’t fast enough to record the interaction. But how are we to give eight hours to work, teach, and parent our children at the same time?

Here are things I’ve been doing:

  • Divide and conquer. Take turns teaching the kids. I am good at planning but not executing the teaching plans. At night, I load a notebook with work for the little one. ABCs, numbers, shapes, questions to ask, suggestions made by teachers. During the day, my husband keeps the little one busy working on math manipulations, tracing letters, numbers, shapes while making it fun (for every wrong answer, a cookie gets taken away).
  • Exercise. Our NYC apartment overlooks a park. We go across the street to run and let out excess energy. We are not allowing them to go into the playgrounds for obvious reasons, but we throw a ball around and take long walks (2-3 miles) with the kids. Either to the park or around the block a couple of times, exercise is important especially now.
  • Transparency. I believe that running a household isn’t any different from running any other type of organization so transparency is key. Even though I have been criticized by family about my level of honesty towards my kids, I think it is important that they understand what is going on in the world around them. I don’t mean talking about the deaths happening (unless these kinds of candid conversations are common in your family), but age-appropriate conversations to help them understand are key.
  • Manage Expectations. Like all other stakeholders in an organization, expectations must be hedged. The kids must know what can and cannot be done while we practice social distancing. No malls, movies, playgrounds, or any other crowded areas. No visits to grandma or family IRL for the time being.

Some Perspective

These are very tough and unprecedented times and despite what it may look like on social media (we all have those “friends” that make it look perfect) everybody is struggling to some degree. Under normal circumstances parenting is hard. Right now, the parent and professional sides of our days are blurred as we manage to work, teach, and parent throughout the day – so parenting is even harder. Be honest and kind to yourself. Take breaks and try to laugh or smile (really laugh and smile – not the fake ones we plaster on during video conferences). When necessary, cry and try to stay connected in some way with people you know won’t judge you be it a parenting group on Facebook, a Twitter community conversation, or your friendly marketer (me!). If you don’t believe me, here is another article telling you the same.

Charisse Curiel, EMBA is a marketing generalist (not a teacher), wife, and mom of two boys in New York City. She spends a lot of her time laughing at the shenanigans the little one gets into and discussing superpowers with the big one.

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