I got some incredible advice when I became a teacher and learned much over the (almost) fifteen years that I taught. I loved that time in my life, and I continue to be thankful for what I learned from the kids and my peers. I remember one particular conversation with my friend Joy, and I have never forgotten the intensity with which she shared her words. She explained to me that each time she saw a child walk toward her, tap her or ask a question, she tried to look at that child with the love and acceptance she hoped her own children's teachers were giving to them.
That sounds easy; but on those rainy, tiring days in the middle of the year, it can be harder said than done. I never forgot that, though, and I tried to keep it in the forefront of my mind each day. When I had my own kids, I found myself wishing and praying with everything I had, that my children's teachers would do the same. And they always have. Each year starts with that anxious feeling, those hopes that my child's teachers will love them and appreciate them - and each year, my children have been loved and cared for by special people. I am thankful to them, to be sure.
This year, though, I find myself with a different wish, a completely new, fervent prayer. It's different now. They are older, and I'm hopeful about something new. I want them to have teachers who care, and I want them to learn and grow. I want something else even more, though. As the mother of three children who has just dropped them off in a new school, in a new town, where they know almost no one - I pray for another student to look at them with acceptance and appreciation.
I wish my old friend, Joy, could have a little chit chat with all of the kids at their new school. I wish she could remind each of them of how it feels to be an outsider. I wish someone could give me (and more importantly) my children, the assurance that they will be looked at with kind eyes, open arms and friendly faces. I can't do it for them, but I would if I could.
Chances are good that things will work out. That I know. And, though I would like to run through the school halls carrying a banner listing the wonderful qualities about my kids, there is nothing at all I can do to get them through this day, this week, this awkward time. I'll coach and I'll pray and I'll worry. But that's all I can do. Tough stuff it is, and I'll be glad when their friends are running in and out of the house, tracking mud through the kitchen and eating all of the 'good' snacks.
For now, I'll be thankful for the amazing and loving teachers my children have had and will have; and I'll be praying that a handful of brave pre-teens cross the line and invite them into this new life.