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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dear Teacher who will teach my Kindergartener,

Dear Kindergarten Teacher,

Let me introduce you to my baby boy, all 9 lbs 3 oz and 21 1/4 inches of him. Well, he was that little (or big!) at one point, 5 1/2 years ago to be exact. He's my first child. He's always going to be that baby in my eyes, regardless of the fact that when we walked into his Kindergarten screening last week everyone wondered if he was signing up for first grade instead, he's so tall, like his Dad.

I remind you that he's my baby, because, well... when I get slightly overprotective, or when I ask a zillion questions to better understand exactly how things work in this new school environment, or when I cry ridiculously on the first day, after sending him off with you instead of running home to cuddle him in the old rocking chair that's still in his room years later... well, you'll understand.

He's my baby.

I know you are fully trained in this helping 5 year olds thing. In fact, I imagine there is a special place in heaven for Kindergarten teachers, I really do. You must have had numerous graduate courses in college specifically on Patience 101. However, I'm asking for your patience with my little man. I hope you'll be patient with us both. I'm new at this whole Kindergarten Parent thing, too. It's kind of scary for me to let him go into a bigger school like this. So please find extra patience for us, as we figure out this transition.

I hope you are able to figure out when he's being funny and silly, instead of acting foolish. I hope you learn quickly that he's really genuinely awesome and kind and helpful. He's a worker. I promise, if you have a job to do - sweeping up dirt, running an errand in the school, delivering a paper, passing out napkins, this kid is your Go-To Guy! I hope you see that, instead of how he sometimes can't sit still in his chair or how he always wants to be first in line. I hope you see through the 5 year old antics to find my little man there, the cool one, the one who I swear you're going to adore.

Please remember he's your student, but he's my baby, the one who lived inside my body once... so if I appear overprotective, well, I am. Sorry to bring this part up again... but it's just the Mama Bear in me. I'm trusting you with him. I am trusting that you will hear him when he says "I give up," when he's struggling with putting his shoes on or putting his hand into his glove before going out at recess or when he doesn't get the instructions to the assignment. I hope you say something like what I say, that we don't ever give up, we just ask for help. And I hope you offer that help.

I'm trusting that you'll be all the help he needs.

I'm trusting you'll keep him safe, build up his self esteem, and help him make friends. I know you're going to teach him letters and numbers, how to read words even. I cannot wait to see how great that is.

But more so, I hope he learns to be a great person from you, his first real school teacher. 

I'm trusting you with a big responsibility. And I have every faith in the world that you're up for the job. Those who enter the world wanting to teach these young dreamers and doers, well, you are special in my book. I thank you.

I am super glad you are ready to take on the challenge of teaching my child academics. I read tons to him over the years. Books are his favorite thing. I know how important reading is. But we missed a few nights here and there because it was busy. We practiced letters, but who knows if I did it the right way or enough, I'm not the teacher. I have no clue what I'm doing in the letter department. And numbers... well, those are harder to teach, it seems, so we did not get to as many of those as I'd hoped to this summer. Hopefully this is normal and OK.

I'm glad he'll have you to direct this part of his learning. I hope you know I tried my best. I didn't let him only watch TV or not practice words. I tried. But if I fall short, if he doesn't know something he should have, have patience with us, we're new at this. I thank you in advance for teaching my boy all he needs to know.

Please tell me KIND, helpful, positive things he does this year, not just the times he won't sit still or when he doesn't share easily with his peers. Please don't only call me when he's not listening to you or when he needs a time out from an activity on the playground. I know he doesn't listen all the time. I certainly know he's not perfect, and I'll never be the mom who defends her child's every whim or negative antic. I will support your decisions to discipline him. 

But please, please call me and write or send home a post-it note telling me something sweet he said, or something that he did that made the class giggle and he sat there with pride on his face for being the center of attention. Let me know when he has a full morning of sitting and standing and listening and moving where he's supposed to.

Those are the little things that I, as his mom, worked SO hard to teach him so that he'd be ready and focused to learn whatever else you're teaching him. Those are the things that make me proud. Sure, I can't wait to see the macaroni artwork and the new letters he's able to write and even when he can decipher words for the first time and speak them aloud. That's all part of the wonderful anticipation of growing up through Kindergarten. But tell me the other things, the life skills, the traits that make him stand out as a kind, wonderful little boy. A mom always wants to know she has a kind boy. Please share with me those moments, even if they seem little. They are the world to me.

I hope you see the silly side. The goofy parts and not just "class clown" type of behavior. He likes to laugh and make others laugh. He's awesome. I hope you see the Awesome. I'm sure you took a course in graduate school See the Awesome 101 also, as I believe all Kindergarten teachers are really trained in doing this, genuinely well.

I hope you see that when he's being TOO silly maybe he needs to use the bathroom, maybe he's confused or worried, or shy. Or maybe he's just needing some structure. I hope you are the structure he needs during his schoolday, like I've been for 5 1/2 years. I thank you now for being that structure. That's a huge responsibility, and I know you've been extensively trained in this field so you are prepared, but it's still a big job.

We moms are lucky to have people like you teachers who are there for our kids.

Here's what it comes down to... I'm nervous. I'm worried that my baby is growing up too fast. I'm worried some kid will pick on him, or he's going to be mean to others. I'm anxious that he doesn't know everything he needs to know academically. I'm worried he's behind somehow. I'm sad to let him go. I'm really sad he's heading off into the bigger world without me. Of course, I can't be with him all the time. I haven't even really the last 5 years. He started daycare at 12 weeks old, since I'm a full time working mom. We're used to being apart. But school, it feels bigger, different. I'm worried somehow he won't be kept safe.

But really, I think I'm most worried that you won't get him. "You" is figurative language, because I don't even know you yet, as his teacher. You're just a name on a paper right now, just like I'm sure he is to you. I know that will change quickly. We'll all get to know one another and it'll be just fine. I just want you to understand my boy, all the things I know about him, I want you to know, too. Of course that's not reality. I'll always know him differently than others, and even you will learn to know him differently than I know him, as your student. That's a good thing. He can always use more strong, confident, inspiring people in his life.

I think if you know him, really know him, you'll see he's awesome just like I know he is... and then he'll be safe, comfortable, happy, and growing not too fast but at a good rate for this sappy mom to keep up with.

I just want you to really know him. For all the cool, awesome, silly, ridiculous parts that make him who he his, my boy. My baby.

So remember to please tell me something positive. Tell me something nice my son did. Even if it was simply that he was the first kid to get to his seat after you asked the kids to return to desks. Or if he let another kid play with a toy he was playing with. These may seem simple to you, expected actions of 5 year olds, but for we moms, we like hearing that just maybe we did actually teach our kids valuable life lessons in those short years we had them before they entered the realm of public school.

We are grateful to hear from you, "YES, you did it! You have a kind, helpful, awesome kid, and I, Stranger turned Teacher, recognize that." 

Thanks in advance for letting me know about the good stuff. 

Nobody wants to hear only the times he threw something or cut in line or didn't share or didn't know how to write the letter N. Thanks in advance for finding the good.

Thanks for getting to know my boy. He's not perfect. He doesn't know everything just yet. But he's so cool. I promise you will see that. Even if he's shy at first, or even if he is overly eager to answer questions and won't do as he's told at first. Be patient, he'll be awesome for you, too.

Thank you for being the next person to teach my boy. We're lucky to have you in our lives this year.


A New Kindergarten Mom, who will take her own advice and find patience, trust, and the good in everything you do

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