I’m a mommy of a three-and-a-half year old son. A full-time job. I am a public school teacher to thirty-two fourth graders. Another full-time job. I’m a wife to a man who sometimes requires the same coaxing, coaching, and cajoling skills as my son and students. A third full-time job. So, as a result, I don’t have one job title that fits. I wear too many hats, have too many responsibilities. I need the whole alphabet.
A Affection dispenser. Children need affection. Hugs and kisses, high-fives, shoulder rubs, pats on the head. My fourth-grade students are no less huggy than were my kindergarten students. I constantly remind my son that Mommies never run out of hugs and kisses.
B Bookkeeper. I am the chief bill-writer at home. The person who shops with coupons and decides if something should be purchased or is still “too expensive.” I am the personal ATM machine, always having a small stash of cash on hand.
C Chauffeur. Since my husband and I got our first car, I was, and am to this day, the designated driver in our family.
D Dietician. I am the chef at home (chef being used lightly. Some nights dinner is as gourmet as chicken nuggets and French fries.) But ultimately, what my family eats is my decision. In the classroom, I dole out “brain food”—the snacks I provide my students during testing. I ration out one Red Vine, a cupful of Goldfish crackers, or a small box of raisins.
E Educator. At home and at work. In academics, behaviors, social skills. Everything I say, everything I do is being watched by young eyes.
F Fun-provider. Kids always want to know if what we’ll be doing is fun. And of course, I tell them. I lie, sometimes, and tell them “Yes.” Because really, no kid wants to hear that recess is over, and it’s time to go inside and do something not-fun. So, I try to make lessons as fun as I can. I try to make teeth-brushing and face-washing as entertaining as possible for my son. (Songs and dances work wonders to persuade kids to do what you want them to do).
G Gardener. One of my favorite places at home is my back patio. A glider, a patio table and chairs, and plants. Impatiens, kalanchoe, and plants whose names I have forgotten. Our family garden has become my responsibility—to water, to weed, to cultivate.
H Historian. I am the record-keeper, the person who doesn’t just take the photos but prints them out, dates them, and stores them in photo albums. I update picture frames around our house with current family photos. I take pictures of my students, creating posters that share our field trip adventures, class parties, or science experiments.
I Interior decorator. I decide on the color paper for my bulletin boards. I decided to have a red-themed kitchen. I put out the holiday decorations, both at school and at home.
J Janitor. I have cleaned up urine (both my son’s and my student’s.) I have cleaned up vomit (both my son’s and my students’). I clean up spilled milk, stray pieces of paper, straw wrappers, paint spots in the sink, and fingerprints on the table.
K Kitchen hand. Cooking is just one aspect of my kitchen duties. Let’s not forget the preparations, the clean-up, the loading and unloading of the dishwasher. The inventory of kitchen cupboards before grocery shopping, the unloading of groceries, and the packing of lunches and snacks.
L Librarian. I have a deep love of books and have had since I was a kid and would enroll in the public library’s annual summer reading program. We were allowed to check out ten books; I’d start reading them in the car. It is a pleasure to introduce my son and my students to great books. Books that are just fun and silly to read. Books that make us think. Books that teach us. Each student receives books as gifts in December and June. My son receives books as gifts year-round, and the public library and bookstore are frequent stops for us.
M Mommy. (My other jobs do fall under this umbrella job). Being Mommy, is my greatest honor. It’s the job I value most, the job that I worry about the most. My number one responsibility as mommy to my son is to keep him healthy and safe. And when it comes to my students, they know that’s my number one job as well - keeping them healthy and safe - teaching them comes second.
N Nurse. I am the person my son wants when he doesn’t feel well. The person he will throw up on. The person who must hold him, cradle him, lull him. At school, I play nurse to students with general complaints of “I don’t feel good,” and no more specific symptoms than that. (It’s amazing how much help a sip of water can offer).
O Overseer. Basically, it comes down to me. I’m the one in charge, I call the shots, and anything that goes wrong will inevitably be blamed on me.
P Psychologist. Dealing with children isn’t always easy. They don’t always know “why” they feel a certain why. They just do. And it’s up to the parent, or the teacher, or the adult in charge to try and get kids to talk it out, “use their words,” to figure out what’s going on and how we can best work through it.
Q Quiet-monitor. I am on noise patrol, making sure my students are walking quietly (or as quietly as I can have them) in the hall. I am the reminder to my son that we have to use our “quiet voices” in the library and at the museum.
R Researcher. I begin each school year explaining my expectations to my students. I also share with them my disclaimers - I’m not perfect and I don’t have all the answers. When I am asked a question I do not know, I will do my best to research the answer.
S Special Events Coordinator. Thanksgiving multicultural feast, birthday parties (both for my son and my students), Halloween brunch, end-of-school celebration (again, for both my students and my family), all require my hands-on expertise. Food must be coordinated, tables set, and silverware and paper goods accounted for.
T Tushie/nose/hand wiper. Okay, those duties are my responsibility because I’m a mommy. But even at school, I cannot let a student walk around with ketchup on their face, snot on their nose, or a leaf in their hair.
U Umpire. It’s up to me to settle disputes—disputes between my students during games of kickball at recess, disagreements between female students who can’t understand what is going on with the girls who are supposed to be their best friends, and tensions between my husband and son when their stubbornness feeds off each other until neither one wants to change his mind and both are getting upset.
V Ventriloquist. Now, you can definitely see my lips moving, but for my three-year-old son I’m good enough to convince him it is his Penguin that is asking him to wash his hands before dinner, his Mr. Tickle doll that is telling him we only have time for one last story before bed.
W Wendy-of-all-trades. Untie knotted shoe laces, fix stuck zippers, repair ripped books, locate missing puzzle pieces, read this book, sing this song.
X X-ray Technician, but not in the traditional sense. I have no fancy machines at my disposal. Yet, I have my “x-ray” eyes that show me when a student will need a moment to himself because he’s upset. I know when my son is becoming frustrated as he attempts to write the letter “n.” I know when students are trying to pass a note in class. I know when my husband is preoccupied before he tells me about a work concern.
Y Yard supervisor. Checking the playground for obstacles—for my son and students. Watching that children are playing nicely and fairly, taking turns and following the rules. Making sure no one is putting anything in their mouth that shouldn’t be put there.
Z Zen master. Not officially, anyway. But I am expected to remain calm regardless of what’s going on around us. So, when the fire alarm rings for an unexpected drill during a social studies lesson, I must calmly evacuate my thirty-two students. When the blender is whirring, my son needs to use the potty, and the phone rings, I’ve got to achieve a calm comforting voice to help everyone stay focused on what they need to do.