Being a parent is weird. Every time you think you have a handle on all the little things you never thought about, life queues up your next lesson in feelings and dealings. Last night after the kids went to bed I sat down to catch up on emails. In my personal inbox there was an email from the boys’ school, SUBJECT: CHANGE OF STAFF. These types of emails don’t come super often. Don’t get me wrong, we get emails from time to time where teachers are moving rooms or age groups but I’ve never gotten a ‘change of staff’ email and had a gut reaction so strongly that tears welled up in my eyes.
Well, not until tonight.
My boys have had great teachers. I talk about it all the time – each and every one of them have been great – but this year Matty is old enough to appreciate and love and attach himself to people at his own will and (the big game-changer) to talk about it at home, to request those people by name and to call them his best friends if that’s how he feels. About 6 months ago, Matty moved up an age group and with it came a new lead teacher. She’s quiet and sweet and very good with Matty. She is the first teacher he’s requested by name, the first person he’s willingly called his best friend and his favorite teacher and after his seven day hiatus from school on his first morning back, when you’d expect his drop-off to be horrendous, he ran – full speed – to see her. As a parent, these kinds of things warm your heart; through our son’s admiration and adoration, Seth and I have become strangely attached to this woman we hardly see or speak to. He talks about her at home. He asks on the way to school if she’ll be there when we get there. When you ask if he’s excited to see his friends he’ll say yes and add her name. He just loves her and on Thursday, at the end of the day, they’ll exchange last goodbyes as she resigns.
At two, I wonder how much of this Matty will comprehend. I wonder how long he’ll ask for her and how drop-offs without her will be. I wonder how many days it will be before he starts to forget when she was there – part of me hopes never, part of me hopes immediately. I wonder if it will break his heart as much as mine breaks for him, for the loss of his first best friend and favorite teacher. I wonder in what ways her absence will manifest in his behavior. I wonder if she’s knows how much he loves her and talks about her and how much we appreciate her. I wonder if maybe I’m just being that crazy and emotional mom. But ultimately, I wonder how many more nights out of this life I will spend with tears in my eyes and an ache in my gut worrying about the wholeness of my boys’ hearts.
I’m sure it’s way more than I can even imagine right now.
Being a parent is more than weird, it’s fucking impossible. You could read every book and still never know what to do or say or exactly what to prepare for. No amount of preparation is foolproof – it’s day by day. When I was in college, I worked at a childcare center and preschool for four years, the goodbyes were always a million times harder on me (and the parents) than they ever were the kids – today, I find solace in that. But I won’t have that peace of mind forever. Someday my kids will be old enough to feel the weight of goodbyes and make the distinction between a goodbye for now and goodbye forever. Luckily, though, that day isn’t today or tomorrow – or Thursday. Today, he’s just lucky enough to have someone to call a best friend and to look forward to school and to have no real idea about time or permanence. And I’m lucky enough to have had someone affect him so positively even if for only six months.
To all the teachers turned best friends and favorite people, happy holidays – somewhere there are handfuls and handfuls of souls grateful for what you do and who you are and the heart you share. To someone, you are the talk of the dinner table and the car ride to and from school and the trip around the grocery store. And to all of those someone’s parents, you are their secret key to success. You hold a special place in all of our hearts. Thanks for doing what you do and being you.