Whoa Mama

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Praise of the Teacher…



You hear that nothing prepares you for being a parent. Right from the get-go, you cannot be blind-sided by love the way your child does. You can read about what to do when he has a fever, but the book never tells you how bad it feels when you can’t make your baby better. The ubiquitous sleepless nights are so long, dark and lonely followed by blurry, queasy days when you just cannot possible believe that you will be rested again. Fast forward to what to feed him, staying on top of the laundry, having to leave him alone for the first time. Is that a rash? Did he say Mama? Do I have to cut his hair? One M&M for everytime he pees in the potty. Then before you know it he’s reading and spending as much time at school as with you.

Enter the Teacher.

I didn’t invent the baby. I’m not the first parent to leave a child at school. I was a stay-at-home mom though. They were with me ALL THE TIME! Passing my babies over to someone else for 6 hours a day however is an enormous act of trust. That said, half day nursery schools are a different continent from full-day public pre-K. And the teachers at the latter have been nothing if not patient, kind and supportive…to all of us, especially in our transition.

Today Noah’s teachers broke the mold.

Noah said to me as we were about to stop at the little butcher on way home, “God decided that it was time for Tabrea’s brother Isaiah to come live with him in heaven”

I almost drove off the road.

He continued, “We made her a card. I got to finish the heart!! We painted with our hand prints and Mrs. Donnelly is bringing it to her house because Tabrea is taking a break from school.”

My head was spinning. I begin to pepper him with questions hoping something sticks and he keeps talking.

Me: Was Isaiah sick?
Noah: Mrs. Donnelly didn’t tell me.

Me: How old was Isaiah?
Noah: He is a baby. (yes, he used the present tense)

Me: Did this just happen?
Noah: I don’t know.

Me: Was Tabrea in school today?
Noah: I told you, Mommy, she’s taking a break from school for a little while because of Isaiah going to live with God.

He never said death, dead, dying. He was responsive and could acknowledge that it was sad. He was very happy that he got to finish the heart with his painted hands. He thought Isaiah might have been sick, but he was a baby and he would ask Tabrea when she came back to school or maybe Mrs. Donnelly.

I could break off to a rant about this is the sh*t that you cannot plan for as a parent. Nope. This one wasn’t mine. Seriously, the wonderful, caring, strong, creative and patient teachers in the course of their work day shaped Noah with a healthy perspective on death, provided appropriate vocabulary to express himself and quelled any confusion or fear that might spring.

Now he’s just thinking about it. Hell, so am I. He was riding his bike saying “Isaiah”. I’m sure we’ll continue to talk about Isaiah for a long time. I am in eternal gratitude to Mrs. Donnelly and Mrs. Mele for giving Noah the tools to do that in a healthy way.

To the teachers: gratitude and awe.

1 Comments:

At 5:50 AM , Blogger Julie said...

Leah, tell her how you feel. We get plenty of feedback when parents, administrators, community members, etc. aren't pleased. But rarely are we thanked for our successes. We give our hearts and souls completely to these children who will leave us and move on as quickly as they arrived. You will make her day more than you will ever know.

 

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