Cheers to Another Great Year

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 an overwhelming 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 responsibility 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.

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