This past week, I learned that my son's Gymboree instructor, who was a mother herself, passed away suddenly. I barely knew this woman, but I was devastated. I realized I had taken her presence for granted; she was someone I counted on seeing each week. But then, one day, with no notice, her life was taken from her.
She was 29.
It's just so so sad.
Here is my tribute to this vibrant and wonderful teacher.
"Welcome, welcome, everyone.
Now you're here,
Let's have some fun."
When my son heard the raspy but happy singsong voice of Miss Casey, he turned his head to find her. Wherever he was in the room, he knew now that class was starting. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him, over to where Miss Casey was sitting, welcoming the children with her smile and song. It always amazed me how quickly and sweetly she could capture the attention span of 15 toddlers.
"Casey, look!" I remember exclaiming. Only a few moments before, she had helped my son turn around and climb down a set of stairs. Now, he was trying out that new skill on a totally different obstacle. I was thrilled. I couldn't believe he'd made the connection that this new skill could be used on various obstacles throughout the room. Casey got just as excited as I did, even though I'm sure she'd seen tons of kids do the same thing. But like she did with everyone, she made me feel like when my son did it, it was extra special.
My son is shy; he doesn't like to be involved in activities when lots of other kids are present. Miss Casey knew that; she never pressured him to participate in an obstacle when all the other kids were crowded around it. But she always hung back a few extra moments. She knew that when the kids cleared, there would be my son, ready to climb the mini-wall or go through the tunnel. She knew he'd be in the back, watching and waiting for when he felt it was safe to cautiously make his way through the obstacle. He'd get through it, and she'd be waiting with a high five, a compliment or a few Spanish words of encouragement.
We recently traveled for six weeks and when we returned, unannounced, Miss Casey welcomed my son, by name, as if he'd never left. I couldn't believe she still remembered his name, considering that we'd only known her a few months prior to our trip.
Her demeanor was sweet, but motivating. She knew how to encourage and inspire a child to try something new. She created a space of security, of happiness and of comfort. Gymboree won't be the same now. It won't hold that same sense of safety. There's something missing. The tragedy hangs heavy in the air.
So welcome, welcome, to heaven, Miss Casey.
Now you're there.
We hope you have some fun.
Sarahlynne is a Parenting Guru.