New Year, New job and the Glass-Uterus Effect

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Tomorrow is my first day at a new school. Since arriving in Queensland 6 years ago I have been extremely lucky to have remained employed at the same wonderful school, conveniently located ten minutes from home. I remember my first day six years ago. Having just moved from a really tough school in the dry, northern suburbs of Adelaide I arrived at what looked like a tropical holiday resort. With a golf club across the road, the Surfers Paradise skyline in the background and a lake right in the middle of the school oval.  I remembered thinking, ‘we’re definitely not in Elizabeth’ any more, closely followed up with ‘I probably won’t need to worry about my car being stolen while it’s parked out there’.

During my time there I have welcomed my two beautiful boys, and to be honest it has become more of a social outing than a job. Amongst the staff are teachers who have become great friends, and in some instances I have taught all siblings from the same family. For a school that was only ever meant to be a temporary stop gap while we figured out if we wanted to stay on the Gold Coast, It turns out to be the longest stint I have had in any one setting. My second home.

I am so sad to leave, but so excited to move forward. After a lot of thought my decision was confirmed last week while watching my friends prepare to go back to the classroom full time. At my school it was full time for me or nothing. That is the problem with teaching, it is often all in or nothing.

After applying for jobs close to home and being honest about my plans to have more children, I was met with ‘In light of what we discussed, there won’t be any suitable positions for next year’ and I totally get it. Being that I am on contract, I am a liability in a classroom. Having a class is like taking guardianship of 30 little lives for a the whole year- not just for two or three terms until I dare decide to have a child in the middle of a school year. Before I  hear gasps of ‘discrimination’ it is so not like that. If you are permanent then you have a rite of return as a part time teacher. As a contract staff member I was lucky to have been looked after as long as I have been between having my children. To be fair, If it hadn’t been for stopping to have babies I would have had a permanent position here in Queensland as well as in Adelaide. They call it the glass ceiling effect- a woman’s inability to progress as far as a male in the same work place, and it is alive and kicking in the teaching profession. I just call it the ‘glass uterus effect’. Our progression is severely affected by our biological requirement to stop and have children, and lets face it, that is just tough shit! You can’t have years off and expect to be the boss when you get back!

So I’ve gone further a field for a 3 day classroom position (job share), and I couldn’t be more excited. Rather than dreading the return to full time work and leaving the boys, I can have my class…and eat it too (oops…cake).  Yes it is half hour away, and yes it’s not as pretty as where I was, but it is the best option for my young family at this moment in our short time together.

Teachers out there will appreciate the lack of ownership and achievement you feel when you don’t have your own class. We didn’t get into this profession to teach 12 lessons of back to back library lessons for prep children. On most days this involves getting them safely to the library without losing one or all of them as they cross the yard like a flock of sheep, sending at least three with sore fingers to the sick bay, a poo in the pants, having my feet rubbed (not so bad) and at least 3 comments about why I’m wearing the same clothes as last week.   (FYI you kids are just seeing me at the start of my washing cycle)

So tomorrow I meet my teaching partner and see what will be my new ‘home’ for a while. For some strange reason, what would have made me sick with anxiety once upon a time, is now so exciting! Maybe it’s called growing up.

Wish me luck 🙂

Have I become one of ‘Those’ Mums?

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Today I broke up with my four year old’s swimming teacher. Well, in actual fact she broke up with me and I am still furious about it.  This was such a shock as there have been many times in my life where I have not been able to hold my tongue when confronted with rude people. Look, admittedly I do have an extremely low tolerance for stupidity and even less tolerance for unnecessary rudeness or bad attitudes from complete strangers. I, like many others can also appreciate a bit of rudeness where rudeness is warranted. I am usually the first to throw out a few colourful f-bombs or go for in for the kill when I feel something to be unjust like my pet hate of people pushing in, but this lady or should I say Sergeant (I know this as she reminded me 99 times ‘I am ex-military you know’) really takes the cake. For the first time or maybe the second in recent years, I said NOTHING. I remained cheerful as I gritted my teeth. I tried to ignore the hot burning sensation of fury as I hurriedly dressed my son to leave, knowing he would be listening to every word to coming pouring from my mouth. I walked out in shock and at that point I was still unsure what to do.

Anyway between her outright rudeness, pretending she didn’t receive text messages or emails, talking to the children like ‘dogs’ or sorry ‘soldiers’, her ridiculous logic regarding make-up lessons and her insistence on me joining Facebook in order to communicate with her on any level, enough was enough. Today after my son continued to cry through her lesson she responded with ‘I can refund your money if your’re not happy, I have a waiting list and plenty of clients’. Excuse me crazy lady but isn’t this your job? You are getting paid a decent hourly rate to help children overcome a fear of water, not to create one!

In a way I am proud of the pleasant way in which I responded to her behaviour today. I contained my shock and simply sent an email accepting her offer to cancel our lessons if we weren’t happy, but then a part of me is feeling as though I have let my self down. Perhaps I should have told the truth in my cancellation email and told her exactly why we were cancelling.  There’s always a part of me that needs to fight the fight, but lately much of me says ‘ Is it really worth it?’. I know I would’ve walked away feeling like crap.

Later today, while researching other swim schools in the area I had a horrible thought that maybe I had just become one of ‘those mums’. The mums who fight for their children so hard that they become the habitual school hoppers, the soccer club leavers or the dance school deserters. Maybe I should have put up with her rudeness and returned the following week? Maybe my child should get used to being petrified and scared to death of another adult? Maybe it will build resilience? My heart tells me I did the right thing but my mind is still playing out the argument I should have had. He is only 4. I was disgusted that I had watched him in tears today as ‘she’ tried to blame his fear on ‘behaviour’ rather than that she was a cold, harsh nut case who needed to calm down a bit. We are not trying to qualify for the Olympics over here.My son had no fear of swimming until this lady took over the lessons a few weeks back. Fill in the blanks lady..I mean ‘sergeant’.

As a teacher, I am a huge advocate for challenging the comfort zones of a child, so would hope that I have been able to separate what is helping and what is hindering. I continually preach about the disabling consequences of parents rescuing children and making life ‘breezy’ with no hurdles to jump and removing fears to conquer. This type of ‘helicopter parenting’ results in generations of children who can’t solve a simple problem like finding a pencil, and generations who can’t apply for a job without mum and dad holding their hand at the interview (true story).

But alas, as the evening draws to close and  I finish writing this blog, I receive a rude reply from her saying only ‘money will be in your account in three working days’. There I was this afternoon constructing a polite and cheerful email to ensure our agreement ended on a positive note. What a waste of time. Just goes to prove that regardless of how much I have learnt to control my own behaviour, some people are just Assholes!

Surely someone else has gone through this,  or am I just one of those mums?