With a class of six-year-olds and five of my own, it's natural that the Newtown tragedy in the US has an impact on my own thoughts.
I looked at my own children and thought 'what if I didn't see them again?' What if something so horrible happened to them- then you have to stop thinking along those lines. But it simply makes you realise the need to value them in preference to the limitless number of things that can get in the way.
"Wouldn't life be great if I did X,Y,Z?" Well, maybe life would seem better. But wouldn't someone else be much happier if I did A,B,C?
In fact, A,B,C is very likely to be my primary duty. And some duties towards my own children only I can do. A,B,C is also staring at me and X,Y,Z is often Walter Mitty or Ideal Dad material.
I worry if I'm a good teacher. All the time. Sometimes I just want to give up. But then I hear another teacher say something similar and I realise I'm not alone. We can't all give up.
But when I posed this to a priest friend of mine months ago he asked me 'do you love them?' And of course I said I did.
The wisdom in this is something for another post. What is it to educate?
Do I love the children I teach? How do I show this? Do I respect their dignity? Do I contribute to them earning a bad reputation by the way I speak to colleagues about them? Am I always acting in their best interests and not just 'spouting off', letting off steam at their expense? Am I sarcastic?
What if one of these children wasn't to turn up the next day? And what if that was it? If I only had memories of our relationship what would it be? What is my relationship with each child in my care?
When they are in my class I am acting 'in loco parentis'. How am I actively working on loving these children before me, modelling myself on the love the Father has for each one of us?