I sometimes look with envy at the opportunities available to young people nowadays. They have a great deal more to choose from in terms of study, travel and work. 'In my day' we chose a career (or it chose us), studied for the necessary qualifications and then entered a profession for the next 40 years or so. Yes, we had a certain security in our lives but today's youngsters have far more glamorous prospects, or at least that's how it appears to me.
Still finding my way in my retirement, I wonder how things might have been if I had not been brought up with a great sense of duty and responsibility. What if I'd had the courage to simply pack a bag and set off into the unknown? Well, that's the stuff of dreams and I try to be content with enjoying hearing and reading about the adventures of more free-spirited people.
I like to think that I played a small part in enabling and encouraging a few of my students to go out and do exciting things. It was always my aim, especially in my work with deaf youngsters, to make them feel that they could do things, rather than thinking they should feel handicapped by their deafness. So my job satisfaction is great when I hear of their achievements.
Oliver, now aged 27 and looking a little different from when I taught him, has just become the first deaf man to walk to the North Pole, raising £24,000 in sponsorship for charity. His mum emailed me to say how proud she was of his many achievements: he has run marathons, 20Ks and taken part in triathlons in London, Stockholm, Brussels, Paris, Lisbon, Warsaw, Prague, New York and Rome; he'll be representing GB in Turkey in September and is a hopeful to represent the British Deaf in the Para- Olympics. Oliver hasn't only had great success in sport, he got a good degree, runs his own web design company and has done voluntary work in Singapore.
The email from proud mum, Sue, also said: I always remember when you first met Oliver and you said that he was special! And so he was; even at 18 months he was obviously an exceptionally intelligent and determined boy. He's already achieved a great deal and I'll have to be satisfied with my small part in that.