Naked and Exposed
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Naked and Exposed

Let’s keep on and on and on!

Photo by Gorbachevsergeyfoto (via pixabay)

Sometimes the angels smoke, hiding it with their sleeves, and when the archangel comes, they throw cigarettes away: that’s when you get shooting stars.”

Vladimir Nabokov

My friend had her first child at the age of 40! I’d been wondering about the reason why so late before I got close enough to ask her directly. Her answer knocked me dead!

Did she lack the right partner? No. She’d had a good marriage long before the decision. Did she suffer from any disease disabling conception? No, it’s not that case. Was she not ready to have a child earlier? Nope. Did she not want a child at all and the pregnancy happened by accident? Sounds dramatic (and interesting), but no. So what took her so long? She said,

“I wasn’t sure I wanted a child at all for a long time because I feared I had nothing precious to teach it. You know, I’ve never been the preacher-teacher type of person who knows answers to everything! I’m more like a confused leaf falling down a tree wondering what the hell is happening to me and what on earth is going on around me?”

Wow. I was so impressed. I never thought about that. At a certain point I just felt the right time had come so let’s get it done! That’s it. Yes, I know, it sounds like a thoughtless animal instinct, but that’s exactly what it was!

Only later did it occur to me that, yes, the teacher-preacher role is the one that needs to be played much too often, unfortunately. Obviously, it’s true that preaching misses the point if it fails to be supported by practice, i.e. parents’ exemplary behavior, but we need to instill the solid ground of decent principles into our children and, hey, we are no angels, right? So we do preach and preach and preach, teaching.

So swell do I act my role, surprising myself how deep and nutritious my lectures can be. Really! I open my mouth and I can’t believe my ears! Am I really uttering it? Have I come up with all these brilliant ideas myself or have I read or heard them somewhere before? Do I act accordingly? Do I truly agree with what I’m producing or just saying what should be said for various reasons, e.g. to provide the solid springboard for future individual thinking or just to simplify the world depicting it in black and white only as the complexity of all the shades in between is not something a small child can truly handle? Never mind! Keep on and on and on!

I’ve noticed that the preacher-teacher role is a real pain in the neck not only for us, parents, but for school teachers as well. I remember the time when my daughter Carol was in the second grade in elementary school and her tutor, a lovely wise funny young lady, had the obligation to discuss the harmful impact of smoking on our health. There were exhaustive notes and drawings placed in children’s notebooks, an educational documentary was played in class, posters prepared within the scope of team project. Carol was flooded with all the horridness of all the data and understood finally that it was the worst evil imaginable to smoke. Especially that my husband had quitted smoking before the children were born (as the price of cigarettes rocketed too high for him to bear it) and I never smoked (as I was never able to learn although God knows how hard I tried as I considered it so cool!). Thus my daughter was not accustomed to anybody smoking habitually, which made it so easy for her to believe how nasty cigarettes were.

And one day she got shocked. We went to a local supermarket and going out of it with bags full of healthy food we saw the lovely tutor in the parking lot…smoking. The culprit undoubtedly saw us and quickly turned her back against us to avoid any disaster encounter, surely remembering the topic of her recent preaching in class. I hurried my daughter to the car pretending I hadn’t noticed. Unfortunately, Carol had spotted the worst evil ever. Oh. My. God. She was devastated! I lied in the name of preaching. I said I hadn’t seen her tutor. Impossible! It probably wasn’t her, but someone only very similar! My daughter is a strong personality though and it’s not a piece of cake to sell her bullshit. So she said she knew what she had witnessed.

My, oh, my. What’s left to say? Let’s keep on and on and on all parents and teachers in this world!




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Marta Mozolewska

Marta Mozolewska

translator, mother of two naughty kids, and writer in the meantime,

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