Thursday, May 9, 2013

For their teachers

Yesterday, KJ went to school looking mighty smashing in his pink button down shirt and tie.  He insisted that he wanted to wear them because pink was his teacher's favorite color.  I proudly clutched his hand, walked him to the door of the school, and just knew that every teacher/parent/staff-member that saw him was swooning at his adorableness.  What a great mom he has!

Today, I was humbled.

Today, to show his appreciation, he took her this beauty.

To be honest, I was horrified.  I even wrote a note to his teacher that explained why in the world I let him bring her a weed, which surely is worse than coal at Christmas.  It was a carefully crafted explanation intended to dispel any notion she might have that our family believed her to be weed worthy. 

In my note I went on to explain that when KJ found this "plant" in our backyard yesterday he came running inside nearly breathless.  He declared this plant to be the PERFECT example of what they had been learning, of what SHE had taught him.  It had every single part of the plant, including visible roots.  He knew what all of the parts were called, what their purposes were, and why they were important to the life of the plant.  At school he had drawn pictures, studied diagrams, even created a book about the parts of plants.  AND NOW, in his mind, he had a perfect one in REAL LIFE.  One that his teacher absolutely must see.

As KJ got out of the van at school proudly clutching his weed, um cough plant- he moved it from one hand to the other as he adjusted his back pack and got ready to head inside to deliver his treasure.  As I watched the other children filing past with bouquets of purchased flowers or roses carefully clipped from their own gardens, I couldn't help but feel that I was setting him up for disappointment. I just knew that any minute it was going to click- he was going to see theirs and then see his.  And realize, his treasure was a weed.

"Hey Buddy," I called out, "I think your plant is SUPER awesome.  I'm so proud of you for knowing so much about it.  And I'm sure Mrs D will, too.  But, um, you might just want to make sure she knows that you chose it because you could see all of its parts so well.  Maybe you could just explain a little bit about why it is so special when you give it to her".

As he began to fall in with the flow of kids he called back
"Nah, she'll know it when she sees it"

And as he walked away from the van, I knew I had been wrong.  The explanation note was completely unnecessary.  The pep talk I gave him- completely unnecessary.  The need to protect him when his idea doesn't look just like his friends- completely unnecessary.

She did that. 
She created in him a new knowledge.
She created in him an excitement to show her how he was applying it.
She gave him a confidence in his gift.
She was the one who was going to
"Know it when she saw it"

And it wasn't the first time that a teacher has done this for a child.  Or the last.
Teachers everywhere see much, and know more than we give them credit for.
When kids bring you treasures that look an awful lot like rubbish, you see and you know the value.
When they learn something new, and a new door opens to them, it may be something a million children before them have learned.  But you see their joy.  And you know.
When children dont quite keep up, but won't ask for help- you see.  And you know.
When our treasures spend each day in your class not making friends.  You see.  And you know.
When there are kids who no one asks about.  Who no one ever seems present for.  You see.  And you know.
More times than we may ever notice.  You see it- and you know it.

So, Teachers.  From the mom of the kid who brought a weed to show you how much you are appreciated.  From the mom of the kid that carried that weed with great pride because of all you have taught him.  Thank you.  A million times, thank you.

Thank you for all of the ways that you know what goes unexplained.  You see.  And you know.
And this week, during teacher appreciation week, I hope you've had at least one parent say to you
I see.  And I know.
All that you do.


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