When I was in high school, one of my friends asked me to describe my parents. I thought for a minute, then said that I could describe my parents through a story – a story of them building a bridge.
Although I had thought of an imaginary bridge, let’s say it’s the Bay Bridge, since I live in SF now.
In building the bridge, I told my friend that I know exactly what roles my parents would play – and how their roles would describe who they were.
My Dad would be the builder.
First, he would spend hours looking at other bridges, jotting down notes of best practices and designs. He would talk with other bridge builders, asking questions, asking for advice. He would watch films and read books. Then, he would start designing the Bay Bridge, factoring in material, costs, time, the amount of traffic and other variables that involved transporting humanity across the Bay. He would pitch the project to potential funders and backers, carefully tallying funds and estimating when he would reach the budget goal.
When the bridge broke ground, my Dad would coordinate the workers. He would develop schedules, navigate any challenge, and work efficiently so the construction was finished in a timely manner. In the morning, before work started, he could stand in front of the hundreds of workers and speak, discerning the right words to keep the workers encouraged throughout and to the completion of the bridge.
Then, where my Dad could handle the logistics part of the bridge, my Mom would handle the human aspect of the project.
She would be the person sitting on the interview panels: not just considering if the person had the appropriate education and experience to take part in the project, but also perceived if the candidate had the right personality, character and honest work ethic to get the job done. As the workers fused iron and bolted beams, she would walk around with water, snacks and towels. As the workers wiped the sweat from their heads and guzzled down water, she would ask about the worker’s family, children and what they did on the weekend. If a worker was in the break room and looked depressed, my Mom would stop what she was doing, sit down, and listen to whatever was on the worker’s mind.
She would tell workers when to take a break, when to take extra time during a break, and when the person should leave work a little early – because they had done a good job and deserved it. Wherever she walked along the bridge, a sea of smiles would come across worker’s faces – as if their own mother was walking around and going to take care of them.
“So, yeh, my parents in a nutshell,” I said to my friend.
“You could have just said your Dad is smart and your Mom is nice.” he replied.
“Ugh, you don’t appreciate anything,” I said.
Moral of the Story: Children inherit you.
The bridge story was one I made on the spot. But it wasn’t that hard to conceive. I had over seventeen years of stories and experiences with my Dad and Mom, so describing them was easy. I’m very grateful for both my parents and what they bestowed upon me.
I’ve been told that I’m a mixture of both of them: I have my Dad’s work ethic, thirst for knowledge, and conviction to stand for what needs to be said. Also, I have my Mom’s kindness, ability to listen to others, patience, and an eye to discern and read other people. Along my life, family members, close friends, co-workers, and random people have all contributed to the person I am today, but no more so than my mother and father.
Parent’s play an important role in a child’s life, and I don’t need to tell early childhood educators this. They know how home life impacts school life and the rest of a child’s life. Parents are a child’s first teacher – and I use the term parents to include guardians, older siblings, foster parents, and all those adults who are a child’s primary caregiver.