he’s a little light in his loafers

Some people say my father is like a teddy bear. He’s got a mustache, a belly, a baldhead, a really bad comb-over, and a quiet mouth. I guess the teddy bear part comes from his belly and his quietness, the way he watches and smiles, but rarely says anything. I guess that’s what your teddy bears do. I never thought of him that way. He’s just my Dad.

Your parents are unquestionable in your mind until a certain age. Around 12 or 13, in the middle of puberty and angst, you realize there are other voices in the world, that other people do life differently. The absolute becomes not so absolute.

I was wandering the other day why it is that I chose teaching. I think that my love for children pushed me toward it. In college a professor asked us if we believed that teaching was a calling. I said “no,” that I did not feel that I was called in some mythical, magical way to teach, that this was the only thing for me to do. But, in reality, it is the only thing I ever really considered. Was it short sightedness or was it simply love?

These days I think more liberally than I ever have. I grew up in a conservative town with a conservative mindset, even feeling that women should not be allowed in all male institutions like VMI. I had strong right wing opinions and they all stemmed from that absolute mentality that my parents were right.

By luck and laziness I would up teaching kids with special needs. I had volunteered with special kids in high school and because my 1st semester grades were so bad in college, I chose to enter the Special Ed. department of the Ed. school betting that they needed Special Ed. teachers so bad, they’d overlook my below their acceptance level GPA. It worked.

In the back of my mind, I thought that I would switch to regular education, but as I took more and more classes and had more and more experience, I found that Special Ed. was where I belonged. It had nothing to do with a calling or feeling like a savior. It had to do with simple love. For some reason, I gravitate to these kids, these people. I truly love them. They are beautiful. They are what make this world so amazing to me.

And so my liberalism comes more from love than from true politics. I’ve bent more toward a party or persuasion that is less likely to use words like “queer,” or “light in his loafers.” And to think that those words came from such a quiet teddy bear, but I never thought of him that way. He’s just my Dad.

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