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Yesterday’s milestone: my littlest graduated from preschool. I expected to be all sappy and sobby at the ceremony, but I did surprisingly well. I think it’s because I got it out of my system beforehand, writing the following letter to his three remarkable teachers:
To my son’s preschool teachers: Mrs. Hunter, Mrs. Hulslander, Mrs. Stroble
May 16, 2013
Every morning, a stream of cars outside the door. Little faces peering out, ready for the day, although some are not ready at all. You have to soothe worries, mop tears, interpret words and dig deep for patience. I have been glad sometimes, eager sometimes, relieved sometimes to be dropping him off into your waiting pool of patience. A silent tiding of “good luck!” to you while I tell him, “have a good day!” or “try to be good.”
You have practical knowledge of this kid, stuff that will matter to the world. You see him with his school-mates, listen to him describe his show and tell, observe whether or not he cleans up from snack most days or puts his head on the table when the lights dim. Does he help his friends? Does he cut along the dotted line? Does he have the right attitude? You know better than me.
It can be hard for a mother to admit that someone else knows better than she. I know his wild hair and sideways pajamas in the morning from a busy night of sleep, his favorite foods and the much longer list of foods he despises, the music in his CD player at night. The intimate things. I feel acute love and anger and pride and frustration. Our burden and gift of motherhood are buckets full to balance. (As a mother, you know this already.)
In spite of the days he defies, disrespects, misbehaves, I’m sideswiped by his cute smile and blue eyes. I have to love him. But all along, through his growth and stalls, you’ve shown that you love him, too. You didn’t have to. It’s hard work, what you do.
Will he remember you when he’s twelve or twenty? Maybe not concretely. He might not be able to summon your face or even say your name, but you’re like a line in his fingerprint. Your patience and guidance, careful instruction and measured words, he’ll take them all with him into life, and he’ll be better for it.