Monday, September 19, 2016

Those Teachers

"Would it be possible for you to stay for a little while to talk after you drop your son off in the morning some time this week?"

A simple question, right? With my firstborn, any assumptions I might have made when directed this question would have run the lines of how we can give him extra challenges at home or "hey, we need a parent to volunteer for such and such."

With my second? Instant tension.

"Of course. Will tomorrow work?" (Best to get it done fast.)

Those who read my blog regularly already know that my son hadn't had the best first week of preschool ever. Meltdowns, tantrums, throwing toys, special trips to the director's office for "breaks." We went into our first weekend with an overtired toddler, a freshly written social story about how to use our hands in kind ways and the teensiest shred of hope that we might make it to October before being kicked out.

Enter Monday morning's question.

And then 24 more hours of wondering if we were about to be on the preschool hunt again.

This tired mama plodded into school on Tuesday, dropped off her toddler, who promised up and down that he would not be throwing toys today, and headed to the auditorium to meet with the woman who had substituted for his teacher the first week.

T: "First off, let me just say how much fun Nate is. He makes us all laugh.'
Me: "OK..." (She's trying to let me know nicely, right?)
T: "Second, he is just so sweet. He LOVES his little friends. And what a smile!"
Me: "OK..." (Wait, where are we going?)
T: "We just wanted to meet really quickly to see if you have some special strategies you use when he is frustrated that we can reinforce here at school? We can tell that consistency is key with him and just want to do what you are doing so he can have a fantastic year here!"
Me: (Finally breathing) "Oh...Oh, ok...yes, of course. I can tell you what we do at home, no problem! Thanks for asking!"

Friends, let me tell you something. When you have a "typically" developing child, you don't think about a lot of things that other parents might. You don't assume a phone call from school is about a problem that your child has caused. You can maybe go out to dinner or have guests come over without wondering if you will suffer for it for the rest of the week. You can do all sorts of things without assuming it will set your child on a course to meltdown mode.

So when you end up at a school where the teachers say something like they did to me on that Tuesday morning, you want to cry for joy. You might not have to cringe every time the phone rings because it is not you versus them. You might see your son light up when he sees his teachers because he can sense they are ON HIS SIDE. That they are FOR HIS GOOD. That they see the beauty and the sweet and the fun even through the frustrations and the sensory issues and the screaming. They see HIM, a little boy; they don't see a problem.

I have met a lot of teachers in my life. And most of them have been wonderful. I don't know how they would have handled my middle child. I think some would have only seen the challenge. And some would maybe have found it too hard. Some would have reacted like his new teachers. But there is no way to know who you are going to get when you take that preschool tour.

So today I am thankful for all the teachers out there who truly love children. Who don't just see them as problems to be fixed or challenges to be avoided. Who see the image of God in these little people who are so desperately in need of boundaries and love and structure and who maybe have brains wired a little differently from their peers and, therefore, need a little extra patience and creativity. Thankful that they see what these kids can contribute even now when they are challenging and see the potential of their persistent personalities.

Because of you, I know when I arrive to pick up my son, no matter what day he has had, you are working with me, with us, to help him and love him. You aren't waiting to tell me the worst of what you saw. I don't know how to fully explain to you how much of a gift that is to moms like me.

Keep doing what you are doing. You are heroes making a huge difference not just in the lives of those little ones but in their whole families.


  1. Lovely!!! Hang in there, Carolyn. You are on the right track.

  2. Lovely!!! Hang in there, Carolyn. You are on the right track.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I appreciate your encouragement.