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MOTHER IS THE TEACHER
By: Daniel Ezell | May 5, 2022
I have a not-so-secret fascination with systems designed to describe all the possible ways to do something. There’s a catalog of just about everything from juggling to biology, both theoretical and practical. One of my earliest exposures to such a catalog was the IPA, not the ale, the alphabet. Every symbol in this catalog (there are 107) signifies a single sound the human mouth can utter. With it, one can not only write out all the words we know, but also write out every pronunciation of them, too. Southern drawl, Brooklyn, Boston, Minnesota, any and all. It’s a cool tool and I learned it from my greatest, most impactful teacher in my life: Mom.
This brilliant woman educated a myriad of students over her career teaching and coaching voice. An accomplished classical singer herself, she empowered young men and women with the confidence, discipline and self-care they need to flourish on and off stage. This included pronunciation–German, Italian, French, Latin–and that was the part of her lessons, at our upright piano in the living room, that stuck for me, her infant, toddler, grade school and high school auditor.
Around age three, our brains begin to cull abilities we don’t need for survival in this social, physical and spiritual world as we mature into adulthood. Some of the things to go are the sounds we effortlessly produce to speak (and sing!) our language. For example, most, but not all, people in North America do not need to make that lovely, percussive click so iconic to the Xhosa language of South Africa. We lose it.
To my wonder, my brain retained a lot of great sounds that many of my friends and family of the Deep South can no longer easily produce. I can really get into a language and sound pretty genuine (no clicks though). Thanks Mom!
More than language, all I ever needed to know I learned from my mother. She taught me how to use a toilet–ever been to a country with different bathroom technology as an adult? Some things are very unintuitive, most are in fact. Like being kind to everyone, not just people who are kind to me or people who can benefit me in some way. Everyone, even people unkind to me. Like eating the things that are good for me first and waiting for the sweets. Delayed gratification is deep wisdom.
My own children have a great teacher, too. I couldn’t be more proud or grateful for the quality human beings growing up in our house. Cody Harris inspired me in his article last month to brag a little, so here goes:
Our oldest is a high school freshman. She tried out for the prestigious acapella group ‘Til Dawn and got in! Who helped her tune her pitches singing “Rain Rain Go Away” at age one? Who sings around the house and gets her big girl to harmonize? Mommy!
Our boy, who is 11, has set his eyes on a double career as paleontologist and author. So, of course, he spends his free time writing his first big work of fiction about a paleontologist’s adventures in the Indian Ocean. Who hand-wrote nearly every assignment for her little 3rd grader? Who teaches his writing class even now? Mommy!
Our youngest, who is five, is pretty proud of herself, for good reason! She just figured out that 10 + 7 = 17. Really. Who do you think works with her on that? Big Sister. And big brother. And me. But especially Mommy!
Mommy teaches them academics all the time at home and at school. She has taught them to write—I mean really write rich essays full of deep insights—and to multiply, divide, take square roots, even add fractions with unlike denominators. She has taught them to read (with the help of Mary Pope Osborne).
I’ve learned a lot from my children’s mommy, too–chiefly this: humble service provides much more reliable and sustainable leadership than ambitious self-advocacy.
Seeing motherhood in action from this side of life has revealed there are no tricks or redos (ok, there are daily redos), just a mature, loving, graceful, persistent woman investing her thoughts, time and career into her children’s well-being and growth. She does it. She is the only one who can. And she does it well.
Charles Barkley was worried in 1993, “I am not a role model... Parents should be role models.” He was right, but there’s no need to worry. Mom, you are the role model, the primary teacher of your child’s lifetime. You are the best teacher for your child. Not because you have a teaching degree or published a book or mastered mathematics, but because you are the one who is most committed to your child’s success. Your children will value what you value, enjoy the activities you do, care for the people you care for.
Thank you, Celeste, for being our family’s first teacher. Happy Mothers Day!
Daniel & Celeste Ezell are parents to three children who have attended, attend or soon will attend their boutique TK-8 school for gifted children. They founded Chronos Academy integrating all subjects to a timeline with creativity, music & making. You can reach Celeste by email at email@example.com. Follow Chronos Academy at @chronoscohorts or learn more at chronos.academy
More from this issue:
Book Picks: Mother's Day Read >>
Community Heroes: Postpartum Support Center Read >>
May is for Mothers Read >>
Mindfulness in the Making: May We Be Mindful and Listen Read >>
Mother is the Teacher Read >>
Reach a Little Higher Read >>
Share the Bounty Read >>
SMMCpreneur: Ellie Dominguez of Ellie's Essential Blends Read >>
Something Good Read >>