Dr. Spock.

Today, for some reason, as I perused the produce section of the grocery store, I craved an orange. I’m not a big orange fan, so I just picked up a single loose one. I put it in the seat portion of my cart with my gloves and other produce and then finished my shopping.

When I got to the checkout line, in the whirlwind to unpack my cart, I had forgotten about my lone orange. As I pushed my cart through to the bagger, I noticed the orange and pulled it from under my gloves.

“Whoa, I almost stole an orange,” I said to the cashier.

“Yes, I can see the headlines, a… well, what do you do for a living?” She asked interrupting herself.

“I’m a teacher… I teach kindergarten,” I confessed.

Her eyes lit up at the prospect of her punch line.

“Kindergarten teacher arrested for theft of orange!” She laughed.

Suddenly, the bagger’s interested was piqued.

“Wait, you teach kindergarten?” She asked.

“Yup, I do,” I said.

“Well, my daughter is four, she’s in preschool two days a week… do you think that’s enough? What do you think she needs to know to be ready for kindergarten? She can write her name, but doesn’t know all her letters yet, is that enough? What about numbers?” She literally rattled off questions.

I tried to answer her the best I could. Her eyes were pleading… obviously she was concerned she was doing the best for her daughter. Clearly, she viewed me as an expert.

It never ceases to amaze me the way as soon as my profession is revealed, I’m viewed as a childhood development expert. While I’ve read Chip Wood’s Yardsticks a few times, and I do have a few years of experience working with young children under my belt, for sure, I’m no Dr. Spock. I’m always willing to share my opinions, but I also worry I’m giving inaccurate information. A little trick I use is always finishing with, ‘That’s just my opinion…’ because it is.

Yes Uncle Ben, with great power comes great responsibility… today I was reminded, even when I leave the classroom, I’m still ‘on’ and that orange… I didn’t mean to almost steal it, really.


Jana said...

I so enjoyed reading "Dr. Spock" This happens to me all the time, as I am sure it happens to so many others!

Buena said...

Thank goodness you're NOT Dr. Spock.
Even HE said he destroyed a generation. (Destroyed may be my word...but he said he was wrong in his child rearing advise!)

A better reference would be a series I read when my son was small..."Your One Year Old," "Your Two Year Old," etc.

I'd be more impressed if you were MR. Spock! :)

Mr. A. said...

@Buena, confession - Dr. Spock was a little before my time, but I knew the reference would make sense... hopefully not in a bad way! And your correct, MR. Spock would be WAY cooler. :)

Karen Greenberg said...

It amazes me how often I am reminded that as teachers we are always "on." As a new teacher I often remind my daughters that I need their behavior to be good while we are in a store because we may run into one of my students. Sure enough, we often do. I'm sure eventually I will relax and realize that people also know I am a person with a personality and faults of my own outside of the classroom. For now, though, I feel like I am constantly on display. It's wonderful that the bagger took such great interest in your opinion. Those are the parents who will be cooperative and helpful when their children are in our classes.

Claudia Daggett said...

Dr. Spock wasn't before MY time... In fact, I remember seeing this very book on my mother's shelf! I think the reference is the perfect analogy for that needful appeal to an authority on child-rearing. The parent's yearning for reassurance is one thing that seems to transcend generations.

KellyTeaches said...

Haha, this happens to me too :) I don't mind the questions about what they need to be ready, but I think it differs so much by school I feel like I can really only give what they need for my classroom haha.

Dorothy Shapland said...

This is exactly the kind of experience that got me to start my advice blog! I have more than a few years of experience to draw on, and I am degreed in child development, not just education, so I don't feel too bad answering questions - but even so, everything I say is qualified with a "that's just my opinion" disclaimer. The questions never stop coming in - though the answers are only listened to when what you say is in line with what they already believe!

123A2Z said...

The older I get, the more proactive I become for letting children be children and develop at their own rate. I always answer parents of preschooler with the advice to read to their child and give them hands on experiences. Leave the letters and numbers and name writing for when they get to school. Teach them how to be kids first. I agree with Buena and the books I got from the Gesell Inst. "Your One Year Old", "Your Two Year Old", ... Taking the Gesell training for Kindergarten screening was one of the best things I did as a parent and as a teacher. I learned so much. Have a great week!

Denise Durkin said...

Hi Mr. A.! How I do enjoy your posts. Loved the one about the claw! And can I share a behavioral consultant's humble opinion on a child development reference? Have you heard of API? Attachment Parenting International. They've got tons of information, clinical and anecdotal, about raising kids in ways that foster the most secure parent-child attachment and promote the most optimal outcomes for our cherubs, including secure sense of self, independence, and more. It's another great reference for those of us working with kids. Just wanted to share this with folks :)

Thank you as always for your delightful posts.