“Milestone” birthdays are usually times for an accounting of your life so far. When I was about 18 years old, I worked out that I would be 47 by the turn of the century. It seemed an age at which life would hold little. Luckily, the naivety of youth was not prophetic. I can still play sport and exercise (although recovery is slower, each year), I read a lot, play a bit of guitar and keep broadly in touch with what is happening around the world.
A lot of people seem to worry about the meaning in their lives – they obviously are not teachers. I’ve educated a lot of kids, and set up a lot of things in schools over the years. Making a real difference is something you don’t always see, but I’ve had feedback from enough ex-students to know it has been worth it. In my current job, it is possible to see, every week, changing values amongst school community members, because of things I have set in motion.
On a more personal level, seeing how my daughter and son are is enough in itself. How soul destroying it must be to have your children not turn out to be contributing members of society. Criminals have parents too. As a teacher, I sometimes want to shake some people, when I see what their actions are doing to their kids, but, as a parent, I have learned that all you can do is to keep supporting and guiding, and loving them, unconditionally. Their mother, Sheryl, and I decided that we would never, ever have both of us “down” at the same time, that we would talk with them, not at them, model a love of reading and make their bedrooms stimulating, safe havens not a punishment cell. Sure, on all sides, it hasn’t always been perfect, but Lyndsey and Sean are (really) young people of whom anyone would be proud.
I’ve heard that you should have no regrets, but, if you don’t, maybe you’ve either been extremely fortunate, or haven’t aimed high enough. However, a friend once told me that “success is getting what you want, and happiness is wanting what you get”. I can usually find the cloud around every silver lining, but I’m getting better. Helen is an enormous help, although she is a bit Pollyanna-ish at times. It’s probably a better way to be, but difficult, if you are not naturally like that.