I wrote this post in anticipation of watching “Waiting for Superman.” I wanted to express my thoughts as a mother before my passion as an education influenced my perspective. I believe that having successfully raised two children, in dire circumstances no less, provides the platform to comment as a parent. If this post seems out of context after I watch the movie, I will gladly mop up any misplaced comments and publicly eat large portions of humble pie.
Imparting the Spirit of Superman
I do not believe that any school or educational system should be our children’s Superman. Inspiring the spirit of a child to rise up, in spite of all odds, discover an identity, and then dare to change his or her world is the spirit of Superman we seek. This spirit is imparted to a child when caring adults invest the time, whether at school or at home.
I believe parents and guardians, family and friends must partner with teachers and schools to support the academic needs of students.
My children had every reason to give up. The devastation of divorce and loss of our family’s ministry career proved difficult for a ten and seven-year-old to bear. They lived in our single-parent home during those vulnerable late elementary through high school years. We studied together around the kitchen table because I went back to school to finish my degree. We explored our talents and identities because I was trying to figure out what I loved and who I was. We carved productive lives out of the rock quarry of bad circumstances in which we found ourselves. Yes, that season was truly the winter of our souls but we lit the fire of perseverance in our family’s hearth.
Recently, my twenty-six year old son asked me to read one of his rough draft essays for his business school application. I wept as I read his tribute to me, ” I realize now that my mother’s dedication empowered me to succeed and inspired my vision.” We waited for Superman but the chair remained empty so we had to become the strength and courage we needed.
I believe that each child has the potential to possess the spirit of superman, an everyday person who, when needed, rises to the occasion with extraordinary deeds. How does a child become a superman or superwoman? This happens when the adults in his or her life model these traits.
When those who youth admire possess common interests and willingly cultivate those passions in a child’s life, youth become motivated. Adults spark the wick of a child’s heart with a desire for excellence. Yet, in order to light this match, adults must slow down long enough to find out what innate talents and budding interests children and youth possess. If we cannot relate or do not know how to help, then we find someone else who does to act as a mentor to our child.
Although this contribution often occurs from a close family member or friend, this can also be the blessing given from a gifted teacher. My own two children had their supermen and superwomen teachers. Donna King helped instill creativity and innovation, Mr. Brotze ignited the fires of learning. As a parent, I am grateful for the many teachers who imparted their passions and talents to me children. However, some teachers seemed more like the Joker with their demeaning methods. Those we try to forget.
Yet ultimately, I never expected my children’s teachers to act as their surrogate mother or father. Although I am a strong proponent of excellence in education, I do not advocate handing over the molding of our children to an institution such as education.
So today, may we all seek to be a superman or superwoman in the life of a child or youth. Let us form families, churches, and communities of support so our children can grow into their capes and masks.