A letter to the teacher.
Dear Mrs. Thompson,
This may make me a bad mother, but I didn't shed a tear when my baby was 6 weeks old and I left him in the arms of another woman while I returned to work. (Trust me, her kids are, like, perfect, so I figured he might have been in more capable hands than mine.)
His first day of kindergarten, though? Open the floodgates. I got as excited as Coop did about this new adventure, these new friends, this exciting milestone.
When he kindly shooed his daddy and me out of the room with an enthusiastic smile and wave, I beamed, proud of his independence, his fearless nature, his zest for life. Then I got in my car and cried.
Now, I thought, he is the world's.
Gratefully, there is nobody I would rather usher him into it than you.
Thank you for tying my little guy's shoes. For singing as you walk him through the hallways. For teaching him to count using candy.
Thank you for making your kindergarten room a happy, Crayola-splashed paradise. For conjuring the creativity to craft individual books with every class member's picture and name. For finding a way to quiet two dozen children without ever raising your voice. (Seriously, you are magical.)
Thank you for writing notes home when he's extra good or needs to be reminded by Momma that field-tripping to a farm does not grant him permission to forget every manner he's ever been taught. For celebrating learning achievements with star-studded certificates and living achievements with treasure-box surprises.
For impressing on our little humans the importance of your simple, important mantra: Be kind.
I'm jealous for sure - that you get to spend more hours a day with my guy than I do, that you know precisely where he sits at lunch, that you watched him form his first crush right before your eyes.
But if I must concede those gems to someone, I couldn't have dreamed up anyone better.
Not to be dramatic, but this whole school thing - you know, how my child will perceive this institution where he'll spend the bulk of his existence for the next 16 or so years - kind of hinged on you. And we hit the jackpot.
I've been stewing about what to gift you for Christmas. How exactly does one woman say to another, "Thank you for embracing my child as the unique, hilarious, amazing little human he is, for figuring out how to teach him in precisely the way he needs to be taught and for loving him like he is your own."?
This, I suppose, is my answer.
So thank you.
(But don't worry - there's an Anthropologie gift card coming your way, too. Because - yeah, everyone reading this has a kid.)
-Kristy Eckert is a Powell mom and the Chief Communication Officer at Flying Horse Farms, a camp in Mt. Gilead that provides magical experiences for children with serious illnesses. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org