Opinion: Merry Christmas, teachers!

School’s out and we are once again discovering our children – their smiles, their enthusiasm – their boredom.

As parents, Australians seem to think we are pretty hot stuff. We know it all. We’re stuffing the kids full of carefully selected children’s classics from the moment they open their eyes and – if you believe Facebook – are spending all our waking hours making additive-free snacks for them to thrown in the rubbish bin at school or swap for a packet of Scooby Snacks.

We’re telling the teachers how to adjust the curriculum and are busy setting boundaries – or not, for those who believe in their children “reaching their full potential” without cramping their style.

But when the Christmas holidays come along, even the best home-baked mum can be reduced to a shivering bundle rocking feverishly in a corner of the kitchen.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to say. When I approached my daughter’s teacher after their primary school graduation dance this year, she backed away nervously. School reports had not long gone out.

I think maybe she was anticipating a negative discussion. I could see the fear in her eyes.

But I told her she had made me cry with the beautiful comments she had written about my daughter. I told her I wanted to print them out – on A3 preferably – and put them up on the wall to remind myself of some of those wonderful qualities when I looked up from rocking in that kitchen corner.

The teacher started to cry. 

“I was crying when I wrote that,” this amazing person said. “I wondered if I ever made any parents cry.”

How much do we pay these people? How much for the school excursions, the hurt knees, the tired aftermath of an excited school night, the after-hours marking, the life advice, the compassion? How much for caring for our children for more waking hours than we do?

We have come to the end of our primary school adventure and I have been left in absolute awe of the people who have guided my child’s education so far. From preschool to Year 6, our experience has encompassed so many who not only met the high expectations, but left them far behind.

Happy holidays, teachers. Put your feet up and have a martini on us. We need you well rested to do it all again next year.