I dropped my first grader off in your room yesterday. Truth be told, I didn’t want to leave the room. I wanted to sit with him, introduce him to some kids he didn’t know, and help him understand that first grade is different from Kindergarten.
I wanted to help him unpack his belongings, check his backpack again, remind him about his lunch, and stay with him. I wanted to be with him on the playground during recess. I wanted to stand up for him if I needed to, explain to the other kids how amazing he is, and fill them in on how he doesn’t worry too much about what others think about his interests, or lack there of. I wanted to shout at the top of my lungs, “I LOVE THIS BOY!”
Dear Teacher I Barely Know, please help me understand how he learns. Help me understand his struggles, his successes, and his potential. In return, I’ll give you insight into his world. I’ll share his talents, his interests, and his needs. We need each other. We have a lot to teach each other, but even more to learn from each other.
I need to hear from you about his time at school. I want you to hear from me that my first grader is complicated, amazing, impulsive, creative, misunderstood at times, and deeply cherished. I want you to know how much he has colored my world with every shade of love possible. I need you to know that I would do anything for him, including holding him accountable for his actions.
I want you to see my son for who he is…all of him…not just the blonde-haired boy sitting in the front row of your classroom. Do you know that there is no place he’d rather be than on the lake with his Papa? Do you know that he really isn’t into sports, but excels at gymnastics? Are you aware that he’d rather dig up worms, and watch fishing shows than sit in front of a video game? Do you know that he draws pictures for me just about everyday?
Do you know that he has already cried, and described his day at school as being “hard”? Do you know that his three best buddies from Kindergarten moved to another school this year? Are you aware that he doesn’t have a lot of friends outside of school, except the girl down the street, and few at the lake who visit when he sees his Papa? Do you know that he asked me the day before school started to remind him again of the kids who might play with him?
Do you know how much that breaks a mother’s heart? Are you aware that I leave a piece of my heart at the door each time I drop him off at school?
Dear Teacher I Barely Know, I don’t expect you to invite the Lord into your classroom, but I have. I’ve asked Him to wrap each child with arms of protection. I’ve prayed that He would be in the midst of your interactions, your lessons, and your set of challenges. I’ve asked Him to show kindness, gentleness, and love through the actions of others. I’ve prayed for you, other students, and my son.
Dear Teacher I Barely Know, you have a tough job. I don’t envy you, and I certainly don’t know if I could spend my days like you do. I want you to know that I don’t expect you to treat my son better than any other child. I know how deeply each child is loved by his or her parents. I know other parents must wonder how their children are at school. I’m sure other parents worry about friendships, peer pressure, bullying, and loneliness. Surely other parents pray for their children, and desire more than anything that their children will learn, grow, and pursue happiness.
I trust you. I know you must love children. I know you have years of experience with kids just like my son, but I do not. I’m still learning how to be a parent. I’m learning that my kids’ needs change with each year, and that life doesn’t get easier as they grow up. I’m still making mistakes, needing do-overs, and learning not to sweat the small stuff.
Dear Teacher I Barely Know, we share something very special in common. We are teachers, models, and disciplinarians to the same child. We are both set out to understand, shape, and encourage the same child. We may barely know each other, but are now connected through this wonderful boy. I’m here for you. I support you. I will back you up when you need it, but I will also defend my son when he needs it.
Dear Teacher I Barely Know, welcome to my world. Welcome to my son.