A letter to my second First Teacher (a starring role with little fanfare.)
Dear Mrs. P,
Avery is my first child, yet I didn’t cry on her first day of kindergarten. Now it’s her last, and I have all of the feels.
There are many things you did for my daughter (other than miraculously teach her math and reading) that are completely underrated. Where do I even begin…
- You kept her safe.
- You got her acclimated to a daily routine for the first time in her life.
- You built up her self-confidence.
- You were there to help her, not criticize her, when she made mistakes.
I met my kindergarten teacher when I was four years old. His name was Richard. He was gentle, patient, sympathetic, and played “This Land Is Your Land” on guitar while we sang, “from the Redwood forest…” which was fitting because it was Northern California and explains why we called our teachers by their first names. At the end of the year, the parents came to the classroom and he recognized each of us individually. When it was my turn he said, “Emily is conscientious, cheerful, and funny. She has very good jokes inside of her.” With time for only a few words, he chose those to define me. The fact that I remember it is the reason I know Avery will carry you with her for the rest of her life.
I didn’t yet know you when I wrote this post after dropping off Avery on her first day, but I’ve gotten to know you through a collection of little moments:
The time we were walking past you in the parking lot and you said, “See you tomorrow!” and Avery said, “I’ll miss you.” Without missing a beat you said, “I’ll miss you more.”
The time I was working lunch duty and you pulled me aside to talk about something I wrote about parenting that resonated with you; I was honored that you took the time to mention it.
While you were helping Avery transition from preschool days into her future professional academic life, you were helping me transition into the mom I need to be to support her:
- You kept my child safe for me without fail.
- You helped me get acclimated to a daily routine for the first time in my mom life. Did I get an email from the principal because I brought her to school after the bell so many times? Why, yes. I did. Did you ever mention it? No, you did not. You sent gentle reminders. You were patient and sympathetic.
- Throughout my learning curve of becoming a mother of a kindergartner you were always on my side. When I came to class to be the mystery reader, you told me I sounded like a pro. You built up my self-confidence.
- When I forgot to bring snacks on snack day and didn’t realize it until school was over, you didn’t even mention it. You just handled it. You were there to help me, not criticize me, when I made mistakes.
So even though I met you 27 years after Richard, throughout my missteps you still made me feel like a conscientious, cheerful, funny mom with good jokes. I will carry your graciousness with me, just as I have carried his.
Thank you for being my second First Teacher. Thank you for everything that you do.
Avery’s mom, but still Emily
Me: “Avery, what’s your favorite thing about Mrs. P?”
Avery: “That she’s always nice to me and she tells me I’m her favorite.”
Me *skeptical*: “She said that?”
Avery: “Well I can just hear it in her brain.”
Me: “You’re definitely my child.”
Avery: “I know.”