Meet Reece, y’all:
She was born on Monday, and if all goes well, my wife and I will be adopting her and heading home to North Carolina by Tuesday of next week! I guess that makes her the newest member of Radical Nation, huh?
I sat her down and explained all of the responsibilities that go along with joining our happy band of educational thinkers. “You’ll have to challenge the thinking of others, Reece—and be willing to have your own thinking challenged. You understand that, don’t you?”
She farted and smiled. I think she gets it.
While she may not know it, she’s already challenging my thinking. I’m wondering how her life has changed now that we’ve stepped in to it. Would she have the same odds of success had her birth parents chosen to raise her by themselves?
Don’t get me wrong: I know that my wife and I are going to do everything within our power to raise Reece well—this is a lucky young lady who has landed in the laps of two people who have wanted to be parents for a long, long while—but can our love overcome the loss that she’ll someday feel, knowing that there’s another mom and dad out there somewhere who were heartbroken to let her go even though they knew it was the right thing for their daughter?
And what consequences will the challenges that her birth mother faced during pregnancy have on Reece in the future? Will she develop at the same rate as other kids—physically and cognitively? Are the potential barriers that she’ll face surmountable, or is she starting out at a disadvantage that will be impossible to overcome?
I’ll also admit that I have NO IDEA how I’m going to pay the bills. Between insurance, diapers, formula and day care, there’s a ton of new expenses that I’m just not sure my teacher’s salary can absorb—and honestly, that makes me mad. I’ve done everything that I can to increase my take-home pay, earning a Master’s degree and National Board Certification (which carries a 12 percent salary supplement in North Carolina), but I just don’t think that I can make ends meet.
Maybe I’m finally starting to understand why so many of my colleagues have left the classroom already. We spend our lives nurturing other people’s kids, but don’t make enough to nurture our own. I guess that I’ll know pretty quickly about whether I can teach for my whole career—a goal I’ve always held for myself.
I’ll let the bounced checks be my guide!
I’m also wondering how being a dad is going to change me as a classroom teacher. Will I have more tolerance and understanding towards my students? More appreciation of the challenges that parents face every day?
Are the best teachers always parents, too?
Or does having Reece mean that I’ll be less of a contributor to my school because I’ve got something more important to spend my time on once the busses leave? I mean, I’ve always been the guy who gave 1,000 percent to my kids—-spending my weekdays coaching teams after school and my weekends designing whiz-bang lessons and reading constantly about my profession simply because it was my passion.
Needless to say, I’ve got a different passion now—-you did see the picture, right? Tell me she ain’t the cutest kid you’ve ever seen—–and it’s crazy how much she’s made me think in the past five days, even if she does poop a lot!