Our son started kindergarten this year. He’s five and a half. FIVE AND A HALF. Just about the age of the children who died in Sandy Hook. I have only been able to look at their beautiful pictures for a few moments at a time. I see the same sense of delight and awe and cleverness in them that I see in my own little one at this age. I can’t take it in quite yet.
What I can “take in” right now is how the teachers – those who died and those who survived – protected their students, their children, with such a sense of “giving themselves over” to them…literally.
I can resonate with that. I can understand that. I can sense in every muscle, fiber, tissue, sinew of my being how a woman would do that, how a mom would do that (men, too, I’m sure. I’m speaking from my own sense as a mom and woman). It’s instinctual. Now I don’t know if I’d think clearly in a situation like that, but I know the laser-like, clear prompt to protect a little one.
We’ve all tapped into that, haven’t we? On the playground, in the parking lot….
So I have been thinking about the teachers. I have been thinking about my own son’s teachers.
Ms. M. takes the time to greet each child in the morning. She goes to each one, bends down, extends her hand, tenderly looks them in the eye — with her eyes and mouth smiling, and she says, “Good morning, ……. I am so glad to see you today!” EACH CHILD. EVERY MORNING. She lingers for a few seconds, though when we are being truly “seen,” when you are being truly regarded, time stops.
The message of “you matter,” “I care for you,” “I see you,” communicated, repeated EVERY DAY begins to take up residence in a little one’s soul. He begins to believe this message. She begins to carry it with her — in her thoughts…about herself, the world. He learns how to see others. She learns how to love others…
…Just from an everyday, seemingly insignificant moment of pause. Repeated. Every day.
Mrs. A. has the wise, grounded, loving presence of a grandmother. Her steady patience with a small group of children at a table learning to read or do math creates a sense of safety…to investigate, to make mistakes, to take time, to be with and in the struggle, to celebrate the moments of “Ohhh I’ve got it!”
So I made them cards.
I told them how appreciative we are of their presence,
the way the care for all our children,
their mindful attention,
their true regard and compassion for our little ones.
Our teachers are with our children five days a week, 6-7 hours a day. Who they are matters. How resourced they are matters — how supported they feel by administration and parents, how much they are paid, how much time they get to plan their day, how much time they get in a day to nurture themselves. All of this matters. They are the protectors of our little one’s — their physical bodies, their emotional and social bodies, and their growing sense of self.
Let’s be about resourcing our teachers. Because how they love and the presence they have with our children matters…for a lifetime.