You tend to think that you’ll be better prepared for the moment you meet the “other woman.”
I, unfortunately, was caught utterly off guard.
The other woman. My first impression was that she couldn’t have been more than 12 years old. Maybe 14, tops.
My second impression was that I had signed up, mentally at least, for a twinkle-eyed, gray haired grandmotherly type of rival.
The woman standing before me was none of these, with the exception, maybe, of the twinkle.
Instead, on this long ago day of last September, my son’s soon-to-be kindergarten teacher was, there is no other word: beautiful.
Her bouncy blond hair, pageant worthy smile and boundless energy were a lethal combination.
During orientation the adoration fairly crackled in the air as every last one of the impressionable students slated to be hers fell in love with her on sight.
Idol. She, this other woman with the winning smile, (who was I would later learn actually all of 24) was to be the center of my son’s universe for the next nine months – whether I liked it or not.
Granted, it wasn’t her personally. It’s just challenging for a slightly frazzled mom, slated to be the “bad guy” of bed making and tooth brushing each and every day of a child’s life, to compete with a goddess who has access to an endless supply of construction paper and a treasure chest stocked with stickers and mini-erasers.
I had enough separation anxiety in parting with my firstborn without having to deal with my son falling head over heels for this cover girl turned kindergarten idol.
It has now been nearly all of those nine months since that day when she and I first met. Since that time, we’ve weathered numerous class parties, story time visits, a field trip, class program, and frequent exchanges of the class mascot: a teddy bear who, in the end, was very nearly stalking me.
In the process I discovered that this “kid” who I thought sure would be tied to one of those little kiddie-sized chairs in a classroom mutiny before Christmas, could, in fact, teach me – a veteran of 35 years and two children – a few things.
Lessons. That, much like that oft repeated “everything I need to know in life I learned in kindergarten,” it really does pay to learn, and play, and share a little each day.
To hold hands, stick together and observe a little quiet time when things get too rough.
That every productive day should feature a nice balance of “must do’s” and “fun do’s,” and that it is never too early to start even 6 year olds on the path to the citizens they will be at 16 – or 60.
That learning to play fair and share may, in the end, prove more useful through life than all the trigonometry and term papers in the world.
That you can have order and wonder in equal measure.
That you should never be afraid to touch a frog.
As we face the end of my son’s first year of formal education, I am aware that this beloved kindergarten teacher who is such a huge presence in his life today, will be but a dim memory to him in the future.
How much do you really remember of when you were 6, after all?
Special. I know that even as she has made every parent feel that their child is “special,” so will hundreds of other children be equally special throughout her career.
It is a gift of the very talented teacher to do so.
I do not delude myself in any way that down the years she will, or could be expected to, remember one sandy haired little boy who she taught when she was young.
Nor will she remember a mother who, not quite so young but forever impressionable, was also taught what it is to trust her baby to someone else’s capable hands – and heart.
Through coming years and many students, she may not remember Matthew and he may not, sad to say, remember her.
Remembered. Nonetheless, I can assure her that Matthew’s mom, and many parents in similar situations elsewhere, will remember her – and other talented teachers like her – forever.
We’ll remember and be grateful that people with the talent take the time to teach. We are grateful that they teach us, the parents, to share.
And in sharing our children with good teachers, they make it just a little easier to let go next year, and the year after.
Although, truth be told, we probably still won’t ever be truly at ease touching a frog.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt thanks all the talented educators who will soon embrace a much deserved summer break. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460.)