An Open Letter of Thanks to My Kids’ Teachers

Dear Teachers,

I had NO idea.  Seriously.

All the times I stared with my kids at math problems I probably forgot how to do longer ago than you were born, I cursed you.

Those nights when I wanted to pound my head into a wall because at 9 PM, I was still arguing over writing vocabulary sentences, all the while thinking you closed up shop at 3 PM and were enjoying an evening with a bowl of popcorn and the Real Housewives, I cursed you.

Remember those dioramas?  The ones I spent $90 on, so you didn’t make snide remarks behind my back about what a crappy mother I was for sending my kid in with a shoe box full of glue stick and construction paper people?  Oh, how I cursed you.

I take it all back.  Every muttering under my breath at the Back To School Nights.  Every nasty thought I was too embarrassed to even bring up in confession.  Every OMG, WTF, and YGTBKM (You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me) that ever came out of my mouth.  I take it all back.

As a student teacher, I have seen and done stuff I never would have thought a teacher did.  I’ve nursed wounds, referreed arguments, washed faces, and counseled children.  My day begins 30 minutes before children arrive in my classroom, goes through their hour long lunch break, and ends two hours after the last child has gone home.

My time at home is not my own.  I am lesson planning.  I am researching methods of dealing with each child’s individual issues.  I am falling asleep at my keyboard.

For all the extra time you put in that I didn’t recognize, I am grateful.  If my kids are anything like “my kids”, I know you are hearing family secrets, not passing judgement, and nurturing my girls as if they were your own.

I have learned so much about teachers as I strive to become one.  Never was the description “Chief cook and bottle washer” more appropriate.  The teachers I work with never stop – they never sit, they never eat (I’ve lost 20 pounds this semester!).  And I know My girls’ teachers did the same thing.

So thank you.  Thank you to my kids’ teachers, my friends who are teachers, my sister, who works tirelessly with challenging kids every day.  I not only have a new appreciation for the job you do, but for the character it takes to do it.

You are the real American heroes.

TeacherOverworked

The Rude Awakening

I admit it.  There have been times through my years as a mother where I questioned the existence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  I wondered if there were inattentive parents out there, or parents who just weren’t prepared for the high level of attention children need.  Of course, there was no such thing as ADHD when I was growing up.  We didn’t have kids that had labels like these – or kids with food allergies.  No one in my SCHOOL (not just my grade) was allergic to peanuts, food dyes, preservatives, or gluten (come to think of it, who knew what gluten was back in my day?).

adhd

More than once, the thought crossed my mind that maybe teachers were getting lazier.  I recalled the nuns of my time, many of them with 30 or more kids in the classroom, and not one ADHD in the bunch.  They ran the classroom like drill sergeants, and they didn’t have time for ADHD, so of course it didn’t exist.

But now, from the other side of the fence, I can see it, up close and personal.  There is absolute physical pain on the faces of the kids who suffer.  They sit on their hands, they bite their lips, they rock back and forth to prevent themselves from standing up and moving around.  There is actual, physical PAIN involved with this diagnosis.

They struggle to get assignments done – not because they don’t have the intellectual ability, but because they lack the ability to do 20 problems on a math test or 10 sentences on their spelling homework – is excruciating.  They are frustrated – not with me, or the amount of work they have to do, but with themselves for not being able to do it.  Their feelings get hurt when points for good behavior are awarded to “teams”, and their teammates are constantly berating them for not being able to “behave”.

ADHD is truly one of those things that you really have to walk in their shoes to understand.  I wish I’d made the journey much sooner.