Same mother. Same teacher. Two completely different children. Ten years apart.
Dear Teacher of my first grade child,
Hi there, I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself. ?I am Zoe’s mom. ?I am a single mom and a full time ER nurse. ?If you ever find yourself in a very serious life threatening situation, then I am your girl. (I once performed CPR through a patient’s cracked open chest, pumping his heart, while actually holding it in my hands!) I am also a pretty decent photographer, so feel free to call me if you’d like some great shots of the kids. I am also an incredible party planner, so you just tell me when the first holiday party of the year is, and I’m all over it! ?One thing I am not, however, is particularly organized. At all. Or punctual. And I’m sort of forgetful. Like sort of a lot. And for this I apologize. And I’m really just hoping that you will not let these terrible habits of mine affect your opinion of my daughter. Because its not her, its me.
At six years old, she is already well aware of my shortcomings, and it kills me to see her so worried all the time. She worries about what we might be forgetting, or if we’re going to be late. She is the one reminding ME about the papers that have to be signed and turned back in. She actually re-checks her backpack after I have gone through it, to make sure everything that should be in there is in there, and everything ?that should be left at home is out. We are still in week one of first grade and she already has the monthly schedule memorized to ensure that I do not send her to school in her dress shoes on gym day, or forget to return the book on library day. Or God forbid, pack her a lunch on hot dog day. ?This is a lot of pressure for a six year old girl, and for that I am eternally guilty. ?If you can try to understand this, and rather than get upset with her for the myriad of potential annoyances that are sure to occur throughout the year, please take it up with me instead. Because its not her, its me.
Maybe together, you and I can come up with a plan or a agreement of some sort. ?Maybe I can just tell you now that I agree to let her participate in all of the normal first grade activities that require that a permission form be filled out. So, rather than making her sit out, please use this as my permission granted. ?Or maybe you can find it in your heart to maybe keep an extra hat/crazy socks/tie dyed shirt etc. on hand, in the event that we totally miss the boat on spirit week. (Maybe even two of each, because I can’t be the ONLY space cadet, of a parent can I?) Just tell me what you think this may cost, I’ll write you a check to cover said items. ?And I know that sending home a bright yellow paper written in all caps reminding parents that ?NEXT FRIDAY IS A HALF DAY!, should suffice to ensure that all students are picked up on time, don’t be so sure. Maybe you can shoot me a text as well? I’d really appreciate the gesture. ?And these are just suggestions. Pipe dreams, perhaps. ?I really don’t expect you to make ANY additional efforts to remind me of the things that I, and I alone, am responsible for remembering. ?Nor should you have to. ?Really what I’m asking is that you please try to be patient with Zoe. ?She tries so hard. For both of us. To get there on time. To remember the ?important dates. To have the permission forms turned on time. Or at all. And shes six. So when you are frustrated. Please stay calm. Please don’t get angry with her. Because its not her, its me.
Dear Teacher of my first grade child,
It seems like only yesterday that I dropped my little girl off in your classroom for her very first day of school. It is hard for me to believe that 10 years has already gone by. In the blink of an eye, so much time has passed, and oh how things have changed! I am now married to the man of my dreams and have three, yes three more children; the first of whom (to my delight) will be entering your classroom for his very first day of school, next week! I remember so clearly, the words I wrote to you, in a letter ten years ago. almost to the date. While I am forever grateful for your kind and understanding response to that letter, and for the loving effort you put in to keeping me afloat amidst the turbulent waters of first grade parenting, I had it all wrong. You see, for now it is my darling little boy that I am sending out in to the world and in to your classroom.
A little boy who takes quite a bit after his mama. A little boy who is sensitive and sweet and kind and charming. He is smart, and creative, and witty. But one thing he is not, is particularly organized. At all. Or punctual. And he’s sort of forgetful. Sometimes he lacks control over the things he says or does. Sometimes he has difficulty transitioning from one task to the next. Sometimes he loses track of time. But this is the way he is built. The way his brain is wired. ?Does this mean that I think the rules don’t apply to him? Definitely not. But he need not be apologetic for the way he is designed. All too often he will hear the words “why can’t you just…” Why can’t you just remember to lock the doors, bring your homework home from school, stay in your seat, stop talking, be on time, pay attention….the list goes on. ?He will begin to wonder these things himself. ?I know the feeling all too well. ?”If I can’t even carry out these simple requests, there must be something wrong with me.” ?I am not smart enough, good enough, obedient enough. It can be damaging. So I ask you, sweet teacher, to help me help him.? He needs for his cocoon of family and teachers and mentors to be supportive, and understanding, and patient. He has the potential to do incredible things one day, but he needs our help. It is up to us to provide him with the resources he needs to really thrive. He deserves it, and the world will be a better place because of it.