Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our kids are their kids, too

I was that mother. The one who looks critically at the school her child attends and wonders: Is this the right fit for my child?

At the beginning of each year the same question surfaces.

Is this teacher a good match?

This year, her teacher was sweet and affectionate, sentimental and caring. Every tattered card offered by grimy little fingers is accepted as if it were gold. This woman, who is so filled with emotion her eyes flood with every sad story she hears, is exactly what I fear most.

This is the sort of person, I tell myself, who will be steamrolled by this child of mine.

This child of mine, who hasn't fallen far from the tree.

I think I know everything, too.

My child, I tell myself, needs structure and sternness. She needs to know that she is not the boss of everything.

Because, I can admit, she IS the boss of most things at home. She can get herself up in the mornings, get herself dressed and packed for school. She'd even manage to prepare a somewhat healthy breakfast if we had such a thing in our kitchen.

Instead, she just harps at me about the lack of selection in our produce drawer.

"More melon, please. Fewer pears."

She'd run to the market if she could see above the steering wheel.

She'd run the whole show if we let her.

Of course, I've never SAID anything that would call into question the wisdom of the paring.

It occurs to me that she's not as soft a touch as I imagine.

It also occurs to me that my daughter is not the master manipulator I assume her to be.

All of that fresh-school-year angst came flooding back to me this week as news of a deadly tornado in Moore, Okla. devastated two elementary schools.

Probably shouldn't admit that, as a “newsie,” I haven't watched much of the news, but it's true.

I couldn't stomach clicking on links in my news feeds that paired “Horrifying” and “Watch” in the same eye-grabbing sentence. I didn't want to see a child's suffering face and feel helpless.

But I couldn't turn away from stories about the teachers. Their quiet heroism. Some of them shielding students against devastating winds with their bodies.

I couldn't turn away from photographs of teachers tearfully hugging students they were afraid might have perished.

It was an extraordinary sight, but one that shouldn't have surprised me.

Our kids are their kids, too.

And even in the day-to-day drudgery – the dog-eats-homework struggles -- teachers are there for our kids in ways we might not have expected.

They are buying school supplies and snacks, doling out high-fives and bear hugs. Listening to concerns and brokering solutions for everything from Josie left her sneakers at home to Johnny's family is homeless.

Most of us have breathed a sigh of relief (perhaps more than once) as the school bus swallows our children whole and carries them away.

More and more I find myself saying a silent prayer. ...

For their teachers.

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