I’m embarrassed to say we missed giving Red’s kindergarten teacher her Christmas gift before winter break started. There are lots of excuses I could offer for why that happened, but I think we all know what a parent’s to do list looks like the last week in December, so I’ll leave it at that!
Last week as school started again I guiltily looked out the Target gift card I had purchased, but not delivered, and found Red’s handmade bookmark hiding under a pile of Christmas cards and scribbled papers. And just as the realization hit me that exactly 5 days into the new term the kids were about to be off again for MLK day, I sat down to write the thank you card for his teacher that I should have written a month before.
I am so grateful that Red has an amazing kindergarten teacher, and as a writer, I felt the need to put that gratitude down on paper for her. I know most other parents of the kids in his class feel the same way, but not everyone can or does express it.
Doing this in January felt so much more poignant! We had just suffered through (I mean enjoyed) Christmas break with both boys home from school and daycare, our routine thrown out the window, excess treats and sugar, late nights and more gifts showered over everyone than we knew what to do with. In December I was just looking forward to getting to the end of the school year and ticking everything off my Christmas to do list. In January, I was looking back and yearning for that routine and structure again, and could really see the benefits and the sense of calm Red’s teacher provided for him.
Red has his challenges at school, as every kid does. Just like the parents of the other 20 kids in his class, when he started kindergarten I worried about how he would handle the lessons, the structure, the social interaction. The one thing his teacher gives everyone in his class that is so valuable, is space to be. She sees them all, just as they are, with their own difficulties, hardships, personality quirks and joyful freedoms that come naturally at this kindergarten age. Every other week I volunteer in his class when they have art, and I silently witness Red’s teacher interacting with all the kids and see her give this to each and every one. It is a beautiful thing to watch. Her patience knows no bounds (I’m sure she might disagree, but it certainly is significantly roomier than mine!)
So this is my plea to parents everywhere; write that thank you card to your kid’s teacher, but do it in January. Look back on the months that have whirled past and see what impact that teacher has made in your kid’s life. Don’t squeeze this in between late night gift shopping at Target and panicking about what you’ve forgotten for your kid’s gingerbread decorating party. Give yourself time to reflect, and the teacher the benefit of that space. We can all hand out cute homemade presents and gift cards. What teachers really appreciate is our time and our heartfelt thanks.