I loved watching my second grade teacher, a short and stout, grey-haired woman named Mrs. Shannon, teach multiplication and read Arthur books. She was kind, personable, strong, and smart. Basically everything I aspired to be. On a chilly Fall day while cutting out construction paper leaves, I decided, at seven years old, if my plans to become a cartoon Disney character didn't turn out then I would teach. In junior high, I picked the grade that seemed most enticing and during high school my choice was solidified by my discomfort around small children. I wanted to teach high school English.
The English major at BYU was not what I expected. I had no passion for it. If I was throwing thousands of dollars and four years of my life at something, I had to feel passionate about it. While trudging through my generals I stumbled across a major that brought fire and desire into my soul. It was a major worthy of my money, so I quickly changed directions. The more I delved into that major the more conformation I received that it was right for me. It was not conventional and didn't translate easily to high school curriculum, yet I was optimistic. I would still find a way to teach.
Then. . . I got married and had to put school on hold. As I unregistered for classes I waved goodbye to some future dreams and went into mourning. Thankfully, just one month into my life as a newlywed I was extended a church calling to TEACH TEENAGERS. It was obvious to me that Heavenly Father knew the desires of my heart. I looked forward to Sundays every week and gained a great fondness for the adolescents of that ward. When we moved a year later I wept. I'm not talking about a few well place tears or a lip quiver. There was blubbering and mascara waterfalls.
In my new ward I was called to the Primary Presidency as the secretary. This calling is so flexible in terms of nursing, diaper changes, walking the halls with a fussy child, but best of all is Andrea can be a little noisy without much notice. She loves watching the children and dancing during singing time. Unfortunately, this calling does not require me to teach. I've missed the Saturday night lesson plans, personal epiphanies, and my mind has wondered down some well-traveled roads of discouragement and self-pity.
January's visiting teaching message was on the importance of visiting teaching. After reading the initial message I wasn't feeling super uplifted. I decided to research the topic further to better understand what it was Heavenly Father wanted me to learn and teach about this. As I was preparing my lesson, a little voice said to me, "See? You're still a teacher." And I recognized another tender mercy.
The gentle reminder that I was still a teacher opened my eyes to a myriad of opportunities I am given every day to hone these skills. This morning, over a messy breakfast of applesauce and oatmeal, I patiently showed Andrea how to hold her spoon. She snatched it from my hand, stabbed the bottom of the bowl rhythmically while I sang "Do Your Ears Hang Low," and licked the tip with her tiny, pink tongue.
I taught her that. . . because I'm a teacher.