Barry Saide

Moment on the Couch

I remember the moment clearly when it clicked for me. I was sitting on the couch with my three-year-old two weeks ago. We were both happy. Him watching Toy Story 2. Me sitting next to him. He reached out and grabbed my hand. For the next three minutes, he held it. We didn't say a word. We didn't need to. We just shared a blanket, enjoying each others' proximity and what was on TV.

As an often nervous parent, I am prone to overanalyzing situations involving my children. I will run through a litany of questions, chief among them: Are they happy? Are they safe? Am I doing the right thing as a parent? These, and a multitude of other questions, often blind me to what's in front of me—two healthy, happy little boys, eager to experiment with the world and all the things within it. It is my neurosis that gets in their way.

As Jake held my hand and we watched the movie, the whispers I often hear did not creep into my consciousness. I didn't think: Is he watching too much TV? Am I just being a lazy parent? Instead, my thoughts kept drifting back to one feeling—that I was truly content. I didn't want to be anywhere else. And, neither did my son. It was a simple moment, and it was beautiful.

Later in the day, I wondered: How can I capture this moment and keep it with me wherever I go? How can I use this as the driving force within my teaching, so no matter how challenging it gets professionally, I can always come from this place of contentment, of love? And, how can I share this with others so they identify their own moments, their own love, and utilize those moments on the couch to drive them forward when it can be hard to do that?

I took my moment on the couch and funneled it into my practice over the past two weeks. I taught from it, used it when connecting with my students, and harnessed it when communicating with their parents. I realized that while I was now conscious of where my passion and drive were coming from, in reality, they had always been there. I had always possessed a desire to help children and their families. To teach with love and respect. I just didn't have the one experience to point to and say, "this is why I do it." Now, because of those three minutes with my son, I do.

A friend of mine who is not an educator told me recently that he felt badly for me. He cited the usual challenges I hear (students, parents, government, etc.). My reply was quick: "I've never been more positive about my field and my role in it." I think he thought I was full of it. And he'd be right, I was full of it: full of joy and happiness to finally be able to understand and verbalize what makes me tick.

All because of one moment on a couch.

Barry Saide has taught 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade in three different New Jersey school districts. He has been teaching for 13 years, the last 11 at Mount Prospect School in Bernards Township where he currently directs the Before/After School Care program. Saide has written and built curriculum in all subjects and has been a grade-level leader. He has led staff development and currently serves on his district's professional development committee. Saide is codirector of the New Jersey ASCD North Region and serves on the New Jersey ASCD executive committee, where his focus is on technology integration and increasing dialogue between PreK–12 and higher education. Connect with Saide through his blog or on Twitter @barrykid1.

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