***Blogger’s Note: First, the disclaimer. This entry is not a put-down to our beloved yaya (or babysitter), but the tell-all–yes, down to the goriest details–of a college professor turned pre-school teacher.
When I left the university after earning my Master’s to return to my hometown, a professor told me (with a grimace, I must say), “But you’re too cosmopolitan! Are you sure you’re not gonna regret it one of these days?”
In the last 8 years since that day, I have not had any regrets. Especially not with the Manila traffic that I get to watch comfortably from my privileged spot on a beige, reupholstered Cleopatra at home. But this week, I came really, really close.
Armed with a suffix to my name, I have worked my way from a part-time instructor to a college professor at a university in my hometown. I think that I have made some impression, as I eventually received an offer to teach at its MBA program.
“Wow. I’m made,” I thought.
But then came a time when my mother, happy as all retirees should be and running an elementary school that she’s built from her retirement money, decided that she missed being employed (though I cannot imagine why) and accepted an offer to become high school principal at a big private school.
That’s where my transition began. Being the daughter that has a more “flexible” life plan, I was a convenient stand-in.
I started as a language teacher, because at one flexible season in my career, I have trained and worked as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor.
Then, because proficiency requires paperwork, I needed to study Education as a second degree, which of course is still not enough. I had to take the LET (Licensure Examination for Teachers) for which filing an application at the PRC Regional Office was a test in itself.
For 4 months, I have not had a weekend to myself. I would wake up at 6:00 A.M. on Saturdays and Sundays so I could earn a front-row seat to review lectures on the Principles of Teaching, the social dimensions, etc.
Fast forward to January 2017. I am now among the first batch of teachers who gets to add LPT (as in Licensed Professional Teacher) to my name. Wow, another suffix!
“Hindi ka na colorum!” as a friend puts it
For all my troubles, I get to mop the floor each time someone spills Yakult that makes the air-conditioned classroom smelling like vomit the whole morning. I get to punch straw into juice boxes with my right hand and pick up an errant ball with my left. My daily cardio consisted of refereeing 5-year-olds who suddenly morph into midget Paquiaos and think “Stay in your seat” is French for “Let’s all go crazy together.” And then there’s the stash of snot-laden tissues and the disarming aroma that tells you what happened in secret before one brave child could say,
“Teacher, may tumae! And I realize the tests never stop at the board exam when somebody poops the watery kind in his pants.
But I didn’t come close to regretting my life choices still. Until about a week ago.
I received a complaint about two of our teachers. And it was from that kind of parent.
These are the ones you cannot explain to. And who’s to start explaining when every point made is responded with, “…and our child never lies.”
Even our school’s CCTV footage becomes questionable as if there’s a syndicate of teachers who would take the time, in between grading papers and writing daily lesson plans, to alter the clips.
One of the teachers asked me, “Teach, I was just thinking, what’s our protection?”
For the first time in many years, I could not answer a question.
So I thought back to the yaya. If I were a mischievous child, and I made up a story about what Yaya did to me. I win. If Mommy believes me, and she always does, I win. If Yaya tells her side of the story, when in fact there’s no story to tell, no one will believe her. Because I’m a child with rights and protection, and she’s an adult who is always to be treated with distrust, I win.
Fortunately for Yaya, she can always go home or move to another employer. Unfortunately for me, I’m the employer.