I’ve never been one to dwell on “what could’ve been.” At least, not a lot.
I do occasionally give thought to choices I have made, and wonder what might have happened if only my choice had been different.
Of course, there really is no way of knowing how things might have changed — there are so many other factors that come into play, that simply considering one choice that one has made offers no real insight into what could’ve been.
Overall, I am not dissatisfied with how my life has progressed over the past 50-plus years… and especially the past 30-some that I have been truly responsible for my own choices.
Sure, there have been disappointments. But there have been a great many more positives.
Probably my biggest regret is not having children.
For some reason — perhaps the realization that, at 53, the opportunity for becoming a father is pretty slim — I seem to be feeling that regret a bit more sharply, lately.
At the time when I ought to have been finding myself a wife and starting a family, things were pretty unsettled. I left the Sault when I was 25, looking for some sort of career that would provide me with the wherewithal to be able to start a family.
Unfortunately, I spent most of the next decade changing jobs, searching for that elusive career. Most of the money I earned went to rent, groceries, and putting gas in my vehicle.
I certainly did not live an extravagant life, but there was very little leftover after the bills were paid to put into the bank.
In 1993, following the deaths of my parents, I returned to the Sault, moving into the family home. Not having to pay rent (or a mortgage) ought to have enabled me to sock some money away but, first, I had to find a job.
As you can well imagine, jobs in the Sault in the early 90s were few and far between, and few paid much more than minimum wage.
Still, I felt I was doing well enough to get married, although that did not work out.
Deciding I needed to start over, yet again, I returned to university to get a second degree (with a higher overall average than the first) and then sold my house to attend Teacher’s College.
That is not a decision I regret, although I was more optimistic about employment prospects than perhaps I ought to have been.
Becoming a teacher fulfilled two — I don’t know whether to call them goals or needs: to be a teacher, and to work with children. Whichever, I do not regret a minute of the time and effort it took t become a teacher.
I am disappointed that after five years I am still only on the supply list (although I have landed an LTO position for the fall). Then again, it was my decision to return to the Sault, and not go somewhere else, where there might have been more job opportunities.
I qualified at the Junior-Intermediate level (Gr 4-10), and began my employment with the Board as an Elementary Supply Teacher. (The ADSB has separate panels for Elementary and Secondary teachers.)
I did four days of Elementary supply in the six week before receiving a call from a high school principal, who invited me to meet with him to “discuss my qualifications.” Long story short, I landed an LTO teaching high school music for the rest of the school year. (It is the same position I have this fall.)
I really enjoyed the Elementary classes. Both of my practice-teaching assignments were elementary: the first in a Gr 5 class, the second a Gr 8. However, I really, really enjoy teaching music at the Secondary level.
This past year I was called by the Elementary dispatcher on four occasions — city-wide workshops left them short of supply teachers for coverage.
The little gaffers are a lot of fun, but there’s nothing “easy” about teaching the primary grades. These are very, very busy little people, with lots of questions and a thirst for knowledge.
If you’ve ever wondered what is meant by the old saying “busier than a one-armed paper-hanger” then you might try spending even a half-day in a Gr 2/3 class to find out.
And, anyone who thinks teenagers have cornered the market on drama would also do well to spend some time in a primary class.
“Teacher, she’s not supposed to use the wooden ruler!” “Teacher, he’s not supposed to be sitting in that chair!” “Teacher, I can’t find my shoes!”
And if you thrive on following a routine, then teaching a primary class will be right up your alley. I can tell you that routines in high school are a bit more flexible, and while I struggled a bit to stay on track with the day plan the teacher had left, the students were more than capable of getting me back on track.
I was exhausted after a full day in a Gr 2/3 class, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I remember reading a comment here on SooToday, once, quite a few years back, from someone who could not understand why an adult — especially a male — would willingly spend any more time than necessary with young children.
I could not help but think to myself, “How sad!” that he would feel that way.
I won’t deny that trying to keep up with 6- and 7-year olds really underscores the fact that my youth has long-since deserted me. On the other hand, being with children helps keep the mind young.
Several years back, when the Harry Potter novels were first coming out, and the first movie had been released, I asked a co-worker, who had a then 8-year-old daughter, if he had read any of the series.
Judging by the look he gave me, you would have thought I had asked if he had fried kitten for lunch.
“No! Those are kids’ books,” was his reply.
I had thought he might have read a kids’ book to his own kid.
I will readily admit that I read kids’ books. Not the Mother-Goose, read-to-your-kid-before-bed type of book. The ones that are designated for “Young Readers,” books like Harry Potter, Narnia, Artemis Fowl, and others.
Many of these books are quite good, with excellent plots, good character development, and a decent message.
For me, these books prove that a novel doesn’t have to include profanity and graphic depictions of violence or sexual activity to be appealing.
What tends to cause these books to be labelled as a kids’ book is most often simply that the protagonists are, in fact, children. Quite often there are adult characters, too — as in the Harry Potter series.
My feeling is that, as a teacher and someone who works with children and youth, if I want to relate to them and understand what’s important to them, I should have some insight into their likes and dislikes.
What better way to gain this insight than to read the books they read, and watch the movies that appeal to them?
Speaking of movies (and returning to my original premise)… I recently saw Despicable Me 2 — TWICE! I also purchased the original Despicable Me and have since watched it again.
This has been one of the triggers for my melancholic musings of not having children. Even a contrived, animated depiction of a father and his daughters tugs at my heartstrings.
It’s not just this cartoonish movie, in fact; many tv shows and movies, even internet memes posted on Facebook have recently given me cause to reflect on my childless situation.
Not long ago I was at a friend’s house, having a discussion on children and parenting, and I admitted that, as a single male who has never had kids, my opinion did not, perhaps, carry all that much weight.
She disabused me of this notion, telling me that my long involvement with youth programming, camping, and teaching has given me a unique and unbiased perspective.
Still, it’s not quite the same as having kid’s of my own… or even grand-kids.
Over the past decade I have come to truly appreciate how my mother felt when she told me how much she wished she had grandchildren. And that is my other big regret — that I was not able to fulfill her dream.
But, we live our own lives as best we can, given the circumstances we find ourselves in.
I may never have children — or grandchildren — of my own, but I know that I have had, and continue to be able to have, an influence on a great many children. And I don't regret that.
But… that’s just my opinion.