Fitting In Just as I am and Passing That On

Like most kids with their parents, my kids like to go work with me. Yesterday, the college had its first Wrangler Day on the Abilene campus (we have two campuses), a day of games and food and fun. We put on our matching special tees for the day and off we went.

We visited with people, wandered around and watched students try to ride the mechanical bull, ate hamburgers, and then while I helped serve those wonderfully greasy burgers, the kids sat under the big tent and watched the people and kept themselves occupied.

(courtesy of Cisco College's facebook page)

Like my kids are doing, I grew up at Cisco College. Both my parents taught there, my mom for over a decade, and my dad from the mid 70s (part time the first few years) to two years ago, when he retired. My brothers and I roamed the various halls and classrooms (the Abilene campus moved several times), and we all attended the college, both brothers going through technical programs--my youngest going through the nursing program my mother taught for, and my other brother going through the electronics program my dad ran at that time. My first college instructor was my father, who taught me BASIC and intro to computing in my senior year of high school.

I even managed to take a drafting class at the Clyde campus in the 80s and, as the only female and a smart ass at that, fail. That was okay. Visualizing screws cut in half and then drawing them really wasn't my thing. 

I've been teaching with the college, first as an adjunct and now full-time, since 2005. It is, without a doubt, my dream come true. I know I am doing exactly what I was meant to do where I was meant to do it.

I grew up as an Air Force brat my first ten years, and although Dad was stable at Dyess for most of that time, my parents were transplanted Yankees. We moved a few times around the town, and then finally out to Potosi, where I am lucky enough, as an adult, to live next door to my childhood home. One of the things I lacked as a kid was continuity, a sense of place, of belonging. I never felt like I belonged at the school I went to--we were one of the few military families at the time, and I was different from the kids, period. I wanted to be with adults. I wanted to be in the library, and most of all, I didn't want to be at recess or in the cafeteria. Yes, I did manage to make friends, people who were similar to me and who made the place bearable. But I didn't fit there.

When I was at the college, though, watching my parents teach, or talking to their fellow instructors, or the students, I was happy. I fit. I was home. 

What I want most for my kids, both MY kids and my students, is that they all have a place they fit, that they are comfortable being themselves. I've worked hard to make home that place for my kids and my classroom a place where all my students knows they will be heard by me and accepted. I want it to be for them what it is for me: the place I belong. 

Yesterday, I had a wonderful day, even though I started it not feeling well. I had a great time serving burgers, visiting, seeing students I have taught over the last couple years come together to have fun, watching my kids at home in that environment, even managing to deal with loud music, a crowd, and smoke from the grills for three hours before I had to take them home--before it was sensory overload. It was a lovely day, and I am so proud of my children--they handled it like troopers, in part because the college is a place they love to go, and they were willing to experience new things there because it's a safe place for them. It's their other home. How wonderful is that? 

I'm not big into rituals or traditions, in general, but this--passing this love of the college and this sense of belonging on to my children and my students, I'm downright mushy about.

1 comment:

Chris D said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time. I am hoping for this experience for my oldest, who has asperger's.

Not sure that he is ready to go away to school but we'll see.