Growing Up

Klara asked for more milk this morning and I left her in her crib and went downstairs to heat up another portion. When I came back, I heard her asking her bedtime doll Baby in a conversational tone, “Where did mamma go? What happened? Where did mamma go?”

People are stunned by how well she speaks, but I tell them, “Hey, I’m a language teacher. This is exactly like teaching beginner language courses but without any “will this be on the test?” and “I’m an English major, so why do I have to be here at all? I hate languages!!!!””

Many colleagues respond to this kind of outburst by explaining the importance of learning languages but I don’t. I’m not a saleswoman or a guidance counselor. I refuse to hand-hold and caretake at work. If you detest the language requirement, organize with other students and present a collective petition to the administration. When Klara goes, “No pants, no dress, no shoes, no school!”, I spend as much time as I need to entertain, convince, cajole and provoke interest. But I’ll be damned if I treat adults at work like I treat my toddler. If their parents chose not to socialize them into the joys and limitations of adulthood, it’s their misfortune.

The most unpleasant part of parenthood is socializing a child into the system of societal limitations. The danger is that you can either impose too many limitations or too few. And the temptation is always to say, “To hell with it. No pants, no dress, no school is fine because it makes my life easier not to jump around like a trained bunny explaining why you have to do it”. But that’s a way out at the expense of the child. Who will grow up thinking it’s ok to throw tantrums at school or at work. 


3 thoughts on “Growing Up”

  1. “I’m not a saleswoman or a guidance counselor.” Unfortunately, at my school, we’re expected to be salespeople for our degree programs, beginning at the 101 level courses. I say “unfortunately” because this–making a sales pitch to convince reluctant students that they should declare a major in my degree program–is really not one of my better skills.


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