They really might.
Do you remember the first time that you saw one of your teachers out on the town- to dinner, having a drink, at a movie, shopping, or just sitting in a park? If you were like me, when you saw this freak-show-rarity, you froze, both in awe and inquisition. Did they see me?! What are they doing here?! Why are they drinking beer?! They came to see Scary Movie 2 in the theatre too?!
It is then that you realized they do not exist to merely teach you, grade you, entertain you, and torture you. They exist OUTSIDE the school grounds as well. Unlike the avatars in Ready Player One, they are HUMAN AND HAVE A REAL LIFE outside of the school environment.
As simple as this realization may sound, I remember it being a bit of a game changer in the sense that I no longer saw my teachers in the same light. I felt like a veil had been lifted and I was granted a sneak peek at who they really were behind the desk.
I know that I have had these experiences with my parents before, but none so profound as the one I had recently while watching old VHS tapes with my sister to celebrate what would have been our Father's 72nd Birthday.
As soon as I became a parent, (and even more so when my children each entered the 2-4 age range of challenge), I felt a strong appreciation and gratitude for my own parents like I had never felt before. There were a lot of "Aha's/Oh's/So that's why's/I get it now's, & How did they do this's?!!" moments.
I even sent them an email thanking them for specific moments in my childhood that I remember as especially meaningful, fun, or sacrificial on their part: monstrous, buckets-full-of-water, to create the end-all-be-all epic indoor water fight, waking me up at all hours of the night to witness various eclipses or meteor showers, the stories of me painting the walls with my own poop as an infant or one of us slapping the other sibling when they were born, (my Mom is not so great with remembering who did what), or when my parents quit their jobs and sold their house to move us all to Maui during a portion of our childhood because quality of life reigns supreme.
While these are great memories and tributes, my VHS tape experience is a whole new level of understanding.
I always suggest writing as an outlet/emotional tool to students I work with, explaining that when you write, it's like having the ability to reach inside your brain, yank out everything that's swirling around inside, and, SPLAT, toss it on a page so you can really see it and attempt to form some semblance of understanding. It is much harder to suggest, "Just think about it"; much like the old saying- you can't see the forrest from the trees. Same goes with writing, the mind, and awareness. (For you non-writers out there, any form of art will do just fine as well)
I liken this analogy to watching my family on VHS, perhaps even more so with my Pops now being dead.
I saw my Pops excitedly showcase our view from the balcony of our new lanai in Maui, and I thought- now there is a man full of wonder, excitement and pride for having taken a risk, confident and comfortable that he made the right move for himself and his family because it was born from the heart.
I saw my Mom give my Pops a "Don't. EVEN." look, and thought- I know that look. I give it to my husband when the kids are around and he knows I am pissed at him but do not want to show it for their sake, but he still tries to argue because he is the stubborn Libra that he is and should have been a damn lawyer.
I heard my Pops' patience wain thin as he attempted to divide it between his 3 daughters in the pool, all trying to show him our amazing swimming abilities, struggling because this showboat of a little girl would not stop talking- and thought, damn. That is me. ALL. THE. TIME.
I saw my Pops try to keep the tight rope balancing act that is maintaining a sense of humor just enough to subtlety make fun of me without my knowledge, but realize that I was (always) smarter than he realized- and thought, oops! I do this with Lily all the time, and she is one smart girl; probably smarter than me when I was her age because she has her Father's wit and sarcasm thrown into the mix.
I saw patience. So much patience. Both the struggles and the wins.
When we truly are able to see ourselves in their eyes- is that it? Is this the key to unlocking this level of understanding, appreciation, and empathy? Is it like reading your favorite book a dozen times, yet still, each time you read it, you find something new? Like a hidden gem that has been hiding in plain sight? Or like that boss level from your favorite Super Mario game- after dying over and over again, and living a Bill Murrayesque, Groundhog Day life, you finally beat the game and are awarded with your prize- experience = knowledge = saving the princess?
I have written about this before, but it really is the seemingly most simple realizations that often times are the hardest to really "get."
Like this one: our parents are (were) real people with hopes, aspirations, doubts, a conscience wrought with guilt, and a heart ready to explode any minute as it busts at the seams, full of guts, love and blood.
At the end of the day, just like us, ALL THEY WANT IS TO BE LIKED AND KNOW THAT THEY ARE DOING A GOOD JOB.
So, if you are a parent and are wondering when that day will come where your children truly appreciate you, add 20 years to their age and you are probably getting close. Or if you are childless and are lucky to have either parent still alive, give em a call, (they really prefer this over a text), and pull a reverse Stuart Smalley- tell them they are good enough and dog gone it, you like them.