A CLASS ACT LESSONS FROM MY MOTHER
I’ll never forget the day I walked into class in 10th grade to see my mother seated behind the desk. She had been a school teacher for years, but having her as my substitute still came as a shock. As class began, neither of us commented on it. But since I was a bit of a smart aleck, I eventually raised my hand. “What’s for dinner, Mom?” Her response was as quick and as dry as the crack of a whip: “Nothing.” My mother would have made a fabulous lawyer. She had a sharp wit and an even sharper mind, armed with a vocabulary that made her virtually unbeatable at Scrabble. Yet she dedicated her life to supporting me and my brothers, pushing us to strive to reach our full potential. As anyone who was raised by a schoolteacher can probably attest, academics came first in our household. You’d think there was no higher crime in the world than getting a bad grade, and we had to be really, really sick to miss a day of school. My mother understood just how invaluable education was, and she made sure we did, too. This is not to say she was a cruel taskmaster. On the contrary, she was incredibly supportive. Despite working as a teacher and helping our father at his clothing store in the evenings, she always made it out to cheer us on at sporting
events, and she was an invaluable sounding board if I was struggling with a homework assignment. On top of everything, Mom would almost always cook dinner for the family, smart aleck comments notwithstanding. The only real exception was when the holiday season got busy, and she stayed late at the clothing store alongside my father. With my elder brother already in college and two younger brothers at home, I became “the hamburger king.” While my cooking didn’t quite compare to hers, I was happy to help out. I didn’t always see it back then, but I’m incredibly grateful for how vigorously my mother pushed me to succeed in school. The fact that all of us Kanter boys now hold advanced degrees, from psychiatry to engineering, is a testament to her unerring commitment to our education. Mom saw our potential even when we couldn’t. The decision to become a lawyer came from a desire to prove myself — to face down the academic rigors and challenges of law school and see if I could handle it. Thanks to the values and skills my mother taught me, I didn’t just succeed in becoming a lawyer; I thrived. Now, 38 years after achieving this personal goal, I’m still going strong.
It’s fitting that Mother’s Day and Teacher’s Day fall within a week of each other this month. I’m incredibly grateful to the woman who was both of those things in my family. Of all the lessons she taught me, the one that has stuck with me the most is that education can never be taken away from you. It’s an idea I’ve carried with me my whole life and have tried, in my own way, to impart to my daughters as they’ve gone on to pursue their own hopes and dreams.
Mom, thanks for everything you taught me.
Law Office of Elliott Kanter APC | (619) 231-1883
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