Thank you for loving my child
June 17th was supposed to be our son’s last day of school. But instead of spending the day having extra recess and signing yearbooks, most of the kids in our local public school systems stayed home.
A crazy storm blasted through Central Virginia the night before, uprooting trees, knocking out power, and setting our city and the surrounding areas into a snarl that took well over a week to untangle. So the local schools decided, “Welp! Guess that’s it. Have a great summer, kids!”
While this was absolutely the correct decision, our family was a bit bummed to miss out on officially saying goodbye to this school year–and, more importantly, to a truly wonderful teacher.
For the last two years, our son has been part of a multi-age classroom (called K-1 at our school) consisting of kindergarteners and first graders. Within this sort of classroom, students spend their first two years in the same class with the same teacher–year one as a kindergartener and year two as a first grader. This set-up allows the newbies to rely on more seasoned students to show them the ropes and empowers those seasoned students to serve as role models for their younger classmates. It’s a fascinating approach to early elementary education, and its success–in my opinion, at least–depends heavily on the teacher putting it into practice.
And thanks to our son’s teacher, Cindy, our son’s K-1 experience was a resounding success.
Our son’s first year of elementary school was also Cindy’s first year of teaching. Cindy came into the K-1 class about two months into the school year, right after the teacher originally hired for the position left suddenly (and dramatically) due to health reasons.
Why Cindy didn’t run for the hills when presented with the opportunity to take over our class, I will never know. I mean, a rookie teacher coming into a classroom of five- and six-year-olds with parents trying–usually unsuccessfully–to not lose their collective shit over this upheaval in the lives of our PRAYSHUS BABIEES?1 Honestly, it could’ve been a disaster. But it wasn’t–for us, at least. It was exactly what our family needed. Cindy was who we needed.
While we made it a point to thank Cindy often throughout the year, I didn’t get the chance to write her the blubbery thank you letter I’d been composing in my mind over the last couple weeks of school. So I’m going to kick it up a notch, as they say.2 I’m going to put that blubbery thank you letter here on the internet for you all to see. Because who is more deserving of a public display of appreciation than a public school teacher? Amen, am I right?
Here we go…
How do I even begin to thank you for the last two years? How does a mother even begin to thank a teacher for loving her child the way you have loved mine?
When I came home from our first parent-teacher conference, my husband asked how it went.
“She gets him,” I nodded.
Because you do. You get what motivates him, what frustrates him, what interests him, what gives him the giggles. You get that he has a hard time with people not following the rules and that he wants so much to make new classmates feel welcome. You get that he can be trusted to take a note to the office but probably not to sit next to a certain someone on the carpet because he cannot resist the urge to chat it up. You’ve taken the time to see what makes our son tick. That is no small thing, and we will be forever grateful for it.
It’s been kind of a crap year for our family for a variety of reasons. Family illness, job uncertainty, a home break-in, for Pete’s sake–let’s just say we’ve had numerous sources of stress. Thankfully, our son’s time at school was not one of them. In fact, during all of the chaos of the last six months, we’ve taken comfort in the fact that our son got to spend his days with you. You have been a unwavering source of comfort, love, and stability for our boy. Most mornings I sighed with relief when we saw your face at drop-off; I knew he was going to be ok because he was with you. What a gift.
Over the last two years you have accomplished something amazing in your classroom: you’ve created a warm, fun, safe space where these little ladies and gentlemen can start figuring out who they are and what they want to be in this world. Yes, you’ve also taught them to read and write, to add and to subtract, to walk down the hall without causing (too much) injury to themselves and others. But it goes so much deeper than that.
These children came to you with very different needs, very different talents, very different challenges, and very different stories, and you managed to honor, serve, and celebrate every single one of them. You don’t only teach them; you see them, you know them, and you love them. I think that’s all any of us want, and for these little boys and girls to find someone who gives them that so early in their lives…it’s a miracle.
And you, Cindy, are a blessing–to our family and to so many others.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
The Catrow Family
1 I know in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t a huge deal, but being unsure about who your young child spends his days with is stressful for any parent.
2 They still say that, right?