Someone once told me at a workshop, or in some other sort of “Rah! Rah! Be a great teacher!” situation, that you have to treat your students as if they were your own children. I think this is a ridiculous suggestion. I will never be able to do that. This is why:

1. I will never be her real parents, and I would never presume to take that position away from her parents.

2. I can’t tell her that she had better not talk to an adult or other student in a disrespectful way or (insert other problem behavior here)  or she will lose her favorite privileges, such as time with friends, time at the movies, etc.

3. I can’t read to her every night before bed and read with her by my side — me in my big rocker, and her in her mini-rocker.

4. I can’t make sure her homework is done, that she’s reading and studying a bit every night.

5. I can’t show her how much I love to read and write (I don’t want it to  look like I’m slacking off at work!)

6. I can’t keep an eye on what she does at night and make sure I know her friends and where she goes in the evening.

7. I can’t make sure the TV stays turned off and the videogame system is hidden (or doesn’t exist!).

8. I can’t take her for a bike ride or a walk with the dog.  I can’t play board games and card games with her every night.

9. I can’t take her to parks, museums, shows, or take her with me on vacations and traveling.

10. I can’t talk about her day during dinner and rub her back when it’s been a bad one.

11. . I can’t show her the importance of recycling.  (Only paper is recycled at the school.)

12. I can’t make sure she lives in an environment that is limited in chemicals, using natural cleaners and limiting plastics.

13. I can’t make sure she has a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner and forbid her to eat school lunch or breakfast. I can’t make sure she takes her daily vitamins and gets daily fresh air and exercise. I can’t discourage her from drinking milk (lactose and antibiotics, and RBGH!) and juice (synthetic sugars, such as sucralose) – the only two beverages offered by the school, unless she buys water.

14. I will not be able to encourage her not to say the pledge of allegiance and tell her why. I can’t encourage her to pursue her own interests during the day, at her own pace, at her own schedule. I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling her not to trust the government and corporations because they are interconnected and shouldn’t be. I can’t share my political feelings at all.

15. She will never know and adore my cats and dog, nor my boyfriend, my sister, my mom, my dad, and my grandparents.

16. She will never see me cry, will never see me at my very worst, nor see me at my very best.

17. I can’t talk about how I live with my partner.

18. I can’t talk about sex, what it is, what it can mean to a person, when to have it, and how to safe.

19. I will never be able to tell her that I am perfectly fine with her being gay and that it doesn’t matter what religion she chooses or whether she picks a religion at all, because really, all religions and spirituality are leading to the same place.

20. I will never be able to be affectionate in the way that I would want to be with my own children. In this day of “don’t touch” and “leave the door open” and “never be alone with a child”, can you imagine me, a teacher, making up a student’s hair? Giving a student a great big hug and kiss any chance I got (let alone once), holding the student against me and telling her that she is wonderful and the best thing that has ever happened to me and that I love her more than all the world, no matter what could possibly happen?

21. I will never be able to tell my student that she is perfect, just the way she is, and that it doesn’t matter what grades she gets, what she gets on state tests, and whether or not she goes to college, as long as she is happy and at peace with herself and the world.

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

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