I grew up as a TK (teacher’s kid) in a small community.
In some ways, small communities are great. You know your neighbors. You look out for each other. You take care of each other.
There is a darker side. Some seem to not have enough of their own lives to manage, so they busily try to manage others’ lives. Some don’t seem to have enough interesting reading or viewing material so they watch everyone else and report on it.
It was worse as a TK.
On the bright side, most people look out for you out of respect for the teacher in the family. Most people will keep an eye on you and give a well-timed word of advice.
But the clueless minority in the dark can make life… rather, well… interesting. I would almost equate it to a fish bowl.
I couldn’t catch the pond bug on my own without someone telling the teacher. I’m glad the conversation was positive, but it would have been nice to be able to brag on myself a bit.
Nor could I knock over the swimming diver without someone immediately running to the teacher to report on my misdeeds. Yes, lying is wrong, but it might have been nice to do the usual teenage thing and dabble in a little deceit to have the experience even if I never chose to use it.
And the aerator would start really throwing off lots of air bubbles and rattling the fishbowl if the teacher did something considered out of character. It was once reported to the non-teacher that the teacher was transporting people of the wrong gender and reputation. Oh, to have the mental prowess of the non-teacher who offered to have the teacher pick the glubbing little fishes up for prayer meeting on the way!
And I can’t count the number of times it was reported to me, a mere child who could change nothing, that the teacher flopped the wrong way in the fishbowl or wiggled a tail the wrong way or bubbled too fast or too slow.
And let’s not talk about the fact that no one seems to remember your name. Yes, I have a name. It would be nice for it to be remembered and used in real life. I love my teacher and non-teacher parent; I love my siblings; I love my kids. BUT I love me enough to want to be known as an individual. Assimilation is futile, and resistance is everything 😉
It wasn’t until I was much older that I started to think about what fun I could have had. For $10, I could have rocked the fishbowl. I could have bought a wild outfit at Goodwill and looked so Rom Gypsy that gulps would have been had. I could have danced in that outfit while I got gas and played “I spy” through the car windows with my kids. I could have thrown on a cowboy hat and sunglasses and pranced through town. The water in that fishbowl would definitely have stirred.
But I digress…
In reality, when I got older, I started to watch for other people to have signs of mental distress from too much time in the fishbowl. And more often than not, it was the PKs (pastor’s/preacher’s kids) that were even worse off.
In addition to the fishbowl standards, every Tom, Dick, and Harry knew the parent was a preacher/pastor. Bible verses would fly almost as quick and thick as the gossip if the PK wasn’t perfectly perfect. The glubbing would get so fast and furious you had to wonder if someone didn’t spike the water supply with caffeine.
And most of the PKs I knew did throughout my life one of two things:
- Survive by flopping out of the fishbowl into another fishbowl, aquarium, or pond that had more nourishment for their system
- Create such a stir through unwise choices that they flopped out and had to flop back in to survive, then serve as the source of glubbing and tail-swishing for the others in the fishbowl
So, if you’re a teacher or preacher, please consider not living in the same community you serve. It may mean a longer commute or a little more family disunity during the teenage years, but it will give your child the opportunity to be more of an individual and less in the spotlight.
And if you’re a TK or PK, and you see me staring–that’s my fishy way of telling you I see you, and I’m here. We’ve had our feathers rubbed the wrong way for so long by the current in the fishbowl that we might as well just flock together. Come on over and introduce yourself because I’m sure the fishbowl stories don’t do you justice!