By Farrah Alexander
MY SON, DANIEL, IS STARTING KINDERGARTEN THIS YEAR. LIKE THE HOPELESSLY NEUROTIC MOM I AM, I FIND THIS IMPOSSIBLE AND AM MYSTIFIED BY COMPLETELY ROUTINE ASPECTS OF SCHOOL.
Do they really expect me to put my precious child on a SCHOOL BUS? Is he really going to be gone ALL DAY? And he’s going to school EVERY DAY? How is this possible? How can he possibly go seven hours without his mama smooching his little cheeks?
What has really calmed my irrational fears and given me comfort before this transition has been every interaction I’ve had with the teachers and staff at my son’s new school. The only time I felt my eyes actually welling up with tears at the thought of my oldest child entering kindergarten was when I heard the school’s principal tell the parents about her morning routine of telling all the kids she loves them.
I’m not the only one nervous about kindergarten. Although he mostly talks about kindergarten with excitement, Daniel also has brought up aspects that make him nervous. He’s nervous about going to a new school he’s not familiar with and having a new teacher and new students and not returning to the school, teachers and friends he loved and knew so well in preschool. His previous teachers and school were amazing, so I understand his hesitation.
Like most kids, Daniel LOVES getting mail and was excited to get a letter addressed to him. When I read it to him, his eyes became wide and bright. There was no hint of nervousness on his smiling face. It was a letter from his new teacher. She introduced herself and talked a little about her family and how they’ve enjoyed the summer. She wrote that she’s so excited about the upcoming year and how fantastic it will be.
I was amazed that a busy teacher would use the precious time she has away from school to personally write every student a letter. As a parent, getting that letter was getting reassurance yet again that everything is going to be OK and that even when I’m not with my child, he’s still going to be with someone who cares.
In the letter, the teacher included her address so Daniel could send a letter or picture back if he’d like. Although this was all intended for my son, the incoming kindergarten student, and not myself, the nervous and neurotic mother, I’d like to send a message to all the teachers heading back to their classrooms this year.
To our teachers:
Thank you. Thank you for reassuring us and calming our unfounded fears by reminding us that you’re not only fully capable of keeping our kids safe and providing them with a quality education, you do all of this because you truly care.
You care about our children before you even know them. You’re teaching them and preparing them before you even enter the classroom for the first time. We see how hard you work both inside and outside of the classroom. We see you go far beyond the basic duties of teaching all the time. We see you and appreciate you.
It’s hard to see the babies we once held in our arms grow into big kids entering school. It’s hard to let go of the control we once had in their daily lives. It’s hard to kiss our babies goodbye in the morning knowing we won’t see them until the afternoon. It’s hard to realize that this time is fleeting and our babies aren’t actually babies at all.
During this time, thank you for recognizing that it’s a little hard and showing us kindness and empathy instead of saying, “My god, woman. He’s not a baby. He’s almost as tall as you and can eat an 8 ounce steak.”
Thank you for not verbally acknowledging that we followed the school bus in our minivans on the first day.
Thank you for being especially understanding when we forget things, even though you reminded us using several different forms of communication.
Thank you for helping our children learn what they need to excel and prepare for the next grade. I know you have a classroom full of children with vastly different learning styles, abilities, and challenges. I can imagine that in itself is an incredible challenge that changes every year. The fact that you conquer those challenges and make it look so effortless is amazing.
Thank you for protecting our children while they’re not under our supervision. Keeping an entire classroom of children safe is an incredible feat that comes with impeccable diligence. I know among all your other many responsibilities, teachers look for signs of trouble to ensure children are safe both inside and outside of school. When our children see your face, they feel safe and comforted.
Thank you for working so incredibly hard. I know your work day doesn’t only start and end with the ringing of the school bell. I know teachers are under a tremendous amount of pressure and the daily demands of your job are intense. Balancing the overwhelming load all teachers carry and managing to still be patient and kind to your students is remarkable.
Just as you make your students feel comforted and safe, I feel confident in your incredible abilities and fully trust you to take care of the most precious and loved part of myself. I can never say thank you enough. It truly takes a special person to shape little minds, and I feel very grateful my child has you.
Please enter the year knowing that what you do every day matters. You change little lives and the impact lasts a lifetime. Thank you, teachers. Have a great year!
THANK YOU FOR RECOGNIZING THAT IT’S A LITTLE HARD AND SHOWING US KINDNESS AND EMPATHY INSTEAD OF SAYING, “MY GOD, WOMAN. HE’S NOT A BABY. HE’S ALMOST AS TALL AS YOU AND CAN EAT AN 8 OUNCE STEAK.”