Whimsical Wednesday: When Mentoring Becomes Mothering

Whimsical Wednesday shows my fancy in a myriad of beautiful things.

What’s the difference between a dream and a vision?  When a dream felt so real, is it already a vision?  I asked after calming myself down as I woke up from a dream last Sunday morning.  It wasn’t a bad dream actually, but I cried in it and woke up with a heavy heart plus tears in my eyes.  Oh, I could just cry right now as I’m thinking about it again.  It just gets me too emotional, you know.

In that dream, I saw my student Jubillo watching a baby in a crib about to fall into a big deep hole with water at the center of a street.  Then he turned around and motioned for me to help.  So I hurried past him with a great pounding in my heart but I haven’t rescued the baby.  The baby fell into the pit in just a blink of an eye!  But after a second or two, a stroller surprisingly materialized in front of me, with the baby lying in it (the rolling crib became a stroller).  I got so worried, looked at the baby, didn’t know what to do, until the baby choked with spritz of water coming out from his mouth.  Aside from being happy that he has been rescued (by an unknown force), I still felt pity over him.  I could see that he needed comfort.  I could see how helpless he was.  I could clearly see how he was grasping for breath.  So I felt the urge of getting him out from the stroller.

From experience, I never took a baby (an infant actually) by my own hands.  I am always afraid to break the infant’s bones.  I am always afraid I could hurt him/her.  I am always afraid to drop a fragile tiny little being whose life I could not replace if anything happens.  But while watching the baby catching up for breath, I gathered all my strength and concentrated on how to cradle him safely.  Then I did it!  In my dream, I finally lifted up a baby in my arms and the feeling was so overwhelming!  It was beyond nice, beyond good, beyond compare!  Oh, I could just feel him in my arms!  In that brief moment of concern to make the baby at ease and comforted, I felt that my whole being is fulfilled!  I don’t know, but I felt some kind of great satisfaction washing over me until, I saw from a distant that a woman with a toddler in tow is approaching us.

Unfortunately, she was the baby’s mom.  The baby’s real mother.  Without hesitations or any word from her, I handed her the baby carefully.  But as she turned away from me with the baby in her hands and another child following her, I suddenly felt so sad.  And in a voice choked with tears, I said to the woman (whom I considered irresponsible and not deserving of the baby), “Not everybody has what you have, please do take care of the baby.  Please do take care of your children.”  And that ended by dream, leaving me to tears while waking up.

As I’m pondering about that dream now, I still get emotional but I have somehow got the meaning of it.  On my 7th year of teaching, I already had my fair share of students whom I’ve cared for and love even.  Looking at my “so-called” anaks grow and being proud of their accomplishment just makes my heart swell with joy.  But at the end of the day, no matter how happy I am for them, it however makes me sad.  Because they are not mine.  They have never been mine to keep.  They are only borrowed.  They come and they go.  They arrive and they leave.  I always wish that they’ll not grow up so I could hold them longer.  Now that’s absurd and the problem is, they do grow up.

They don’t remain to be that adorable little child you always want to pinch ‘coz of their cuteness.  They mature, develop their own thinking, and eventually become a pain in the neck.  I remember telling a former student, “Yan, how I wish you didn’t become big so you will still be that charming little boy singing Chinese songs” after a classroom event.  Maybe I didn’t want to remember the hurt he caused me that day and thank God I can’t even remember the feeling anymore ‘coz today, I still see Yan2x, my Yan2x as the innocent child who expresses himself through his songs, an angel’s voice singing a language I couldn’t even understand.

That’s just only one of the hundreds heartaches I had in my whole teaching hullabaloo which reminds me of my very first heartache as a teacher – The Bucket of Tears.  This one happened in my first or second month of teaching in Chinese School.  I instructed my advisory class to tidy up their classroom during homeroom in the afternoon.  I gathered the lab materials first to return to the lab and I said that when I come back, the room must already be tidy.  Then I went to the lab and when I returned, I was shocked by what I saw.  My book, ballpen, chalk box, etc. are already inside a bucket!  A Minola bucket to be exact!  I was so disheartened, furious, and asked the whole class who put all my things inside the bucket.  Then they went finger pointing to each other and the moment that I was about to cry ‘coz of my seething madness, I left the class, went downstairs, and burst out into grumbling at the faculty office.

With that, my colleagues rounded up, comforted me, and reported the incident to the school’s administration.  As a chemical engineer, I felt so humiliated by what my students did.  In my impression, that’s how rich kids treat their teachers.  Oh, why did I ever attempted to become a teacher!  This would not have happened to me.  Rich kids see their teachers as garbage.  My things were put in a bucket like garbage so I felt like a garbage too.  Then I regretted so much and sworn to death the situation I’m in!  Why did I chose to be a teacher of these ruthless children?!!!

The next day, I still came to class.  Actions were made like calling the kids for investigation questions, summoning their parents, the like!  Then it boiled up to finding the student who was responsible for putting my things in the bucket and it was Laurence.  Laurence was the least person I suspected to have done the crime.  Laurence whom I found meek, Laurence whom I found kinder than any other boy in the class.  I did not believe it at first but after he apologized and explained his reason why he did it, I understood.  He was seeking for attention.  Well, every kid does!  And together with his classmates, they really got my attention ‘coz I haven’t slept for 5 days straight just to dwell in my misery of choosing to be a teacher to them!

Though I’ve regretted, though I kept on asking myself why I chose this path, I was surprised that I didn’t give up.  In fact, I’m still surprised by myself up to this day why I ever continued being a teacher!  This is just beyond my imagination.  I hate, love it.  Love it, hate it.  I’ve had my ups and downs.  If I’ve described it as a roller coaster ride before, it is now a deathly sky dive for I’ve fallen!  I fell deeply into teaching, swallowing me whole.  For if I’ve hated my students that much, I’ve also come to love them wholeheartedly.

That’s the time when I realized that I’ve done an extra mile in teaching ‘coz I’ve become a mother to my students.  I learned how to rear them.  They might not come from my womb but I birthed them through my heart.  It’s just so sweet to my ears every time they call me ma’ama, ma’amy, or ma’amsy.  But I was still confused in pursuing this teaching career.

Then came the time when I heard that we’re not gonna be having first year college students for 2016 some two years ago.  So I happily told myself, “Yes!  Finally it’s gonna be the end of my teaching career!”  However, I was called to duty last month ‘coz I’m still gonna be teaching the incoming Grade 11 students.  Some fate it is, huh?  Now this is another one of the million confirmations that I, truly I, am destined to become a teacher.  I may not be a true-blue teacher by profession but I have learned how to become a teacher by heart.  So as long as there will be students to teach, I’m gonna be a teacher.  I have learned in the longest time through the hardest way.  I had accepted my fate and consider this as my purpose for living.

So now, senior high?  I often complain 6 sections with more or less 50 students.  6 x 50 = 300.  300 students to teach, 300 students to reprimand, 300 test booklets to check every grading period, 300 responsibilities!  “300 students!”  I always exclaim in my mind.  But I got reprimanded.  A gentle reminder not to complain and to do away with inner grumblings.  Because as I’ve posted, teaching is not my profession but a mission, not my job but a vocation, I must do this with great pleasure in my heart.  And to process and condition myself for these 300 students, I actually have 300 new souls to win for the Lord!

Now let’s go back to the question.  A dream or a vision?  Well, I now consider it as a vision.  I was awake feeling the baby wrapped in my arms.  I was awake feeling the baby taken away from me.  I was awake feeling fulfilled and dejected at the same time.  Yes, my students do come and go.  My loves bring joy to me as they also bring me disappointment.  Though I only become a mother to them for a short period of time, I’m being an FC stage mother to them all the time.  And this also brings me into thinking.  Can I still be a stage mother to my real anaks someday?  I pray that God will further extend my youth so I can also do the same for them whatever it is that I’m doing to my anak-anakans for the meantime.  Lord, give me strength!

Related Posts:

On Being Destined to Be a Teacher
Feeling Old and Sentimental on Catholic Teachers’ Day
World Teachers’ Day 2014
When Teaching Was So Hard Yet Super Fun For Me!
When I Was Pharmaseeing

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