This is My Son

Our country truly needs to re-examine the way it views education.

A boy in my homeroom class was packing up at the end of the day. He walked up to me and asked quite bluntly, in pure seventh grade manner, “Mr. Ramsey, was your father ashamed of you for becoming a teacher?”

I was truly taken aback and hurt a bit by this question. But, in true seventh grade teacher manner, I remained calm and asked, “Why would you even think that?”

“Well, like he was in the Marines…”

“Air Force,” I corrected. “So?”

“Well, that’s really hard work…and you…well, you became a teacher.”

I took a deep breath and then responded. “I’m a bit offended by that comment. But to answer your first question I am quite sure he was proud of my choice. He always said he wanted each of his kids to pursue what made them happy.”

I’m sure that, by the time this boy was half-way home, he had already forgotten this exchange. But his comment nagged at my brain all night.

How dare he (or anyone, for that matter) assume that my profession is not worthy.

How dare he assume that a teacher’s work is easy.

How dare he assume that my father would look down upon my decision.

My father wanted each of his seven children to be happy far beyond his own time on this planet. He never decided the path each of us would take. He celebrated our successes and helped us to overcome any hard times along the way.

When I was hired for my first teaching position, my father helped me move seventy miles away from home and helped me find a place of my own. He filled my refrigerator with food and bought furniture for my apartment.

One afternoon during that first year, he surprised me by showing up and waiting in the hallway outside of my classroom. He followed me home and took me to dinner. He laughed at the stories his rookie teacher son had to tell.

Over the years, I moved to a variety of schools in a variety of positions. Dad visited every one of those schools. “This is my son,” he proudly proclaimed to every school secretary.

After 30 years as an educator, I retired and returned to the classroom. My father was in the last stages of his dementia at that time. He died a year later.

My current school is the only school he didn’t get a chance to visit.

Ashamed? Definitely not.

And neither am I. There is no other job that I’d rather do.

I can imagine my father looking down upon his aging son still standing before ornery adolescents (and holding his own in their presence). He’s probably nudging all the school secretary angels and proudly exclaiming, “This is my son…He’s a teacher.”

Copyright, Tim Ramsey, 2018.

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