School’s In

I post this every year…because I love it…and I think it’s worth repeating. Here’s hoping that this year is even better than last year!

The Transfer of a Trust by Susan Wojciechowski

The syndrome hits me every year right after Labor Day. It’s always the same. At 9:34 a.m. the school bus wheezes to a stop at the end of my driveway. My child waves an uncertain goodbye and climbs aboard. The door shooshes shut and the bus rumbles slowly out of sight.

I go onto the back porch for another cup of tea, a peaceful cup at last. I spread the paper open in front of me and start to cry. I snap the paper to attention and pretend to read Sidney Harris. My tears blur the words into a muddy jumble. This is nonsense. I should be glad school is back in session. No more sticky kitchen floor, no more sliding door left open, no more trail of Kool-Aid across the rug. It’s no use. I want to jump in the car and follow bus 158 to school. I want to peek around the corner of the building to make sure my baby has found the right classroom, has not gotten knocked over by bullies, has remembered to carry her lunch box off the bus.

But more than that, I want to glimpse into her classroom. I have no need to check the bulletin boards or the lesson plans. I want to look into the teacher’s soul. I want to find some hint of assurance that she is worthy to continue what I have these past few years begun. For, when each of my children turned 5, they were suddenly snatched from me. I had, up till then, been the overwhelming influence on their development. Their values were my values; their world was shaped by what I wanted them to see, hear, experience. All at once a teacher, a stranger, was taking my place.

And so I cry on the first day of school. I cry because my child is entering a world into which I cannot, no matter how desperately I long to intrude. I cry because some stranger is taking over the job, not of teaching my child math or reading, but of nurturing his development of self. And I wonder if she’ll do it with the dedication I demand.

Each September I fight a overhwheliming urge to rush to school to remind the teacher what a very special little person my child is: that he is not just one of a roomful of pupils–he is MY CHILD and would she please, please treat him accordingly. Would she be so kind as to try to get to know his complex personality, his weaknesses, his childish vulnerabilities; would she try never to humiliate him or belittle him; would she notice his bad days and on those days treat him ever so gently because his is, after all, not just one of a sea of little bodies–he is special. He’s mine.

But of course I can’t do that, can’t dictate caring to every teacher my children will encounter. I only can hope that each one of them will know that for all the fantastic educational tools a teacher might use and for all her mastery of subject matter and exciting lesson plans, and for all her intelligence, her most basic responsiblity will be unfulfilled if the element of caring is missing. And the key to that, in my mind, lies in seeing each pupil as somebody’s precious child.

So I sit on my back porch, drinking a peaceful cup of tea and pretending to read Sidney Harris and hope that my children’s teachers see them as unique, complex, fragile, vulnerable beings. I only can hope that the reason they are teachers, after all, is to bring each student ever closer to his potential, not just as a mind, but as a heart and soul as well.

ALL 3 19

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6 responses to “School’s In

  1. Good luck to Olivia, Gabe and Matthew! Wishing them all the best as they start a new year of school 🙂 (Enjoy your freedom, Mom!!)

  2. Oh my goodness, this is exactly how I feel, even though we’ve got four years under our belt with Alyssa and one for Olivia. I want to be there, even if unseen, to make sure they’re getting the attention, the care they deserve. The attention and care I lavished on them before I had to give them up to school for several hours a day each August. Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing this with us.

  3. And, I appreciate it each you post it. The reminder is so important.

  4. So beautiful. And I enjoyed reading this again! Hope you ALL have a wonderful school year!

  5. Every year you post this and every year I read it and cry. It is so heart achingly true. I watch the boys walk into school and I wonder if the teacher will know that when Keegan is extra quiet there is something he wants to say but isn’t sure that he can say it to her. I wonder if the teacher knows that when Eli is telling her nonstop about Pokemon he is really looking for kindness and reassurance and sometimes even a hug. Every year I trust that the teachers chosen to lead my children and care for my children are the best people for the job. Thankfully, I haven’t been let down yet.
    Hoping for the best school year for the Townsend’s!

  6. Wonderful words. Wishing all a happy school year!

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