What the gifts you get can tell you…especially if you’re a mum and a teacher.

My daughter – a gift in herself – gave me the best presents for Christmas this year. Reflecting on them opened up my thinking and has made me both smile and wince…a fun (?) window on myself and the relationship I have with my family and work.

This year I received a handmade gift on Christmas Day from my beautiful daughter (aged 11 years).  Made off her own back, secretly in her bedroom.  The feeling of being loved that much is indescribably beautiful. 
Inside the gift bag, shyly handed to me when everything else was unwrapped, was the following…

Every techer needs one.

Immediately, neurons fire.  Does she see me as mum or teacher?  She achieved greater depth in writing at the end of primary – look at that spelling.  Well done – accurate use of the possessive apostrophe.  Honestly, sometimes I bore myself.  I’m also dumbstruck by the bossy adult, “Do Work” but sort of love the child’s defiance, ‘No’.    Something there about relationships and how to help people achieve their best.  I’ll need to sit with that one.  Turn over…So – January.

Put on a happy face.

Oh dear.  Do I moan about my work that much?  What is the final picture saying? I’m renowned for wearing my heart on my sleeve, so I’ve decided my smile is genuine.  The ‘not’ thought bubble refers to the previous picture. I do enjoy working with the people I do.  Made me think though.  Feburary…

There’s no avoiding the stress. Like ‘daddy or chips’, it’s ‘planning or mess’ – fact.
I do love chocolate and singing.

I’m always going on about singing. A school that sings together, stays together. (Whatever that means). Still – it DOES lift the energy in the school and our kids are brilliant at it.


I’m happy to admit it – I’m not afraid of admitting when I don’t know something.  And just look at that determination in the expression at the end.  And the worry at the beginning. The level required of our ten and eleven year olds to pass the SATs is ridiculous and I am known for my high expectations.  I mean, there’s high and then there’s soul destroyingly difficult.  And then there are those who achieve greater depth and still don’t spell words like teacher and calendar correctly.  Just goes to show.  Somehow, I don’t think spellcheck will become a thing of the past, so I’m not overly worried.  But let’s keep insisting on it.

Safe for another year and something on competition at the end of this post…
Time CAN slow down
Why are we not on the beach?
Again – I can’t wear a happy face unless I am genuinely happy…this MUST mean I really couldn’t wait to get back to work. Oh hang on, is that a smile? It’s a smile, right?
Ah, Mr Imrie. My nemesis or my inspiration?

Mr Imrie was my childrens’ brilliant primary school headteacher.  Young, enthusiasitc, passionate and I don’t mind admitting I have pinched endless ideas from him (to the benefit of my own school).  It also shows I still get excited about making the kids happy at school.  Point score.

I love Christmas and the Christmas term. When it arrives, it’s a relief – when it’s over, it’s a relief.
A-hem. Did I mention the singing?

I did not say it was bad. A parent did. In a public Facebook post. Wow – I did mention it to my husband. Has my little one remembered that? I must take more care over what I share. She’ll be telling people all sorts about my life. Oh, wait. She does.

In summary, much to reflect on this new year…

  • My poor family lives my job, don’t they? I think they are proud of me; they know education is my vocation and a part of who I am, but I definitely need to think about how to tone it down.  I wish August showed us somewhere nice.  (We do go places, like, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also work all year round, like many, many of my colleagues.  We do not work just 38 weeks of the year, 9 til 3).    Can we do better?
  • I moan about and love my job in equal measure.  That’s ok, isn’t it?  I’m not the only one, I hope. Balance and all that.
  • It is a good job that I love my job as I am terrible at emotional regulation.  I know this and a recent Emotional Intelligence questionnaire verified it.  I’d like to get better at it for the times when I don’t love my job quite so much.  (Repeat to self: own your own stuff; insulate don’t radiate).  The Examen* has really helped me with this, but I’m guilty of dropping it when stressed – just when I need it most.  Mad.  Use it more.
  • Never under estimate the wisdom of children.  This gift brought more than love.  It brought the chance for me to grow.  Blessed.
  • Singing.  Always singing.  I would have been a pop star in another life.  (cue: eye roll)
  • Last, but by no means least, there’s a definite overtone of competition – whether with the indubitable Mr Imrie or SAT results.  I’ve been thinking about this lately.  There is violence in competition – against the Self and others.  Striving for better is one thing; aiming to be the best for the sake of it, is another.  Where, and in how many ways, am I  encouraging unhealthy competition and therefore unwittingly perpetuating violence? I’m sitting and praying with that, too.  

My second brilliant gift – which might be helpful if the above isn’t.

A box full of helpful advice

HOW did I create such a fantastic, intelligent human being?  (I’m not being falsely modest – I mean, how?)  Cue short prayer:  Dear God, You created my children.  How glorious and great You are.  Keep them safe, Help me to help them in the best possible way.  Thank You, thank You, thank You for showing me such love.  Amen.

What sounds like a sneeze and is made out of leather?

A shoe.

PS.  My husband got a jar of nothing.  Because when asked what he wants, he always replies ‘nothing’.  So that’s what he got.  Be careful what you ask for because children are good at listening.

*The Examen.  An Ignatian prayer method that helps you reflect on events of the day, find peace and plan for tomorrow.  Can not recommend this enough.  There’s a brilliant App you can download to guide you – Reimagining the Examen.  I don’t think you (or the people around you for that matter, will regret it.

Pax et bonum.

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