To my son's future teacher,
I need to apologize. My son won't enter school for a few years, but already, I know I'm going to be one of "those" moms. I'm going to make it hard for you. I'll want to know how you relate to your students, how you teach curriculum and how you supplement so you're not just "teaching to the test." I will watch you carefully over the first few months of the school year, analyzing the workbook pages that come home in my child's folder, attending school events and talking to my son about his day. I will be looking for mistakes.
I'm sorry. I know it sounds strange for me to be so judgmental, but you have to understand, for years now, I've stood inside the classroom walls. I've been planning the lessons, developing curriculum and inventing elaborate classroom management schemes. I love what I do. I know the complicated nature of the profession. But in a few years, I'll be the mom waving at the door as my son gleefully skips (hopefully) into the colorful classroom. You will have him then, for a few hours. And you will have such a strong influence. I know this. His peers will teach him too, but you will oversee all of these social interactions. He will come home singing new songs, using new phrases and testing new boundaries. I will experience fresh parenting challenges as he navigates new roads that he learns in your classroom.
It's a heavy burden, being a teacher. Exhilarating, There's so much that you get to witness, firsts that happen only at school. And it's hard for parents to let go. These moms and dads, who've been the child's primary teacher and confidante for the first few years, are suddenly, but temporarily absent. Now, for one third of the child's day, he is under someone else's guidance.
Keep these things in mind when you see my son try something new, ask for guidance or make a poor choice. When he's within your classroom walls, he's looking to you to teach him. And there's so much more to school than academics. But you already know this. You are a good teacher; a teacher who loves and appreciates the depth of the profession. And because you're a good teacher, you know that as the year progresses, my insecurities will pass. But you also may know that as I see him succeeding and growing, the bittersweet taste will remain on my tongue. I'll be proud of him and I'll trust you, but I'll feel a little sad too. I'll know that he won't need me as much anymore.
You see, that's why I'll look so hard for mistakes in the beginning of the year. I know what the stakes are. And I so badly want for you to succeed. Again, I'm sorry. I'm just being careful. When I drop him off in the morning, I'll be leaving a piece of my heart at that school. I just hope that when I pick him up in the afternoon, he's still recognizable. And in between, well, that's up to you.
Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru, an experienced teacher and freelance writer.