Our district had a back-to-school open house, or “meet the teacher night” a few days ago. Between appointments to meet my own awesome classroom kiddos, I got to sneak down to my daughters’ rooms to watch them meet their teachers and check out their rooms for the year. It’s always a neat experience and one where excitement and anticipation fill the air.
Today as I looked through some paperwork we brought home, I filled out a parent survey one of my girls’ sweet teachers sent. One of the questions was “Describe your child in three words” or something like that.
While that should have been an easy task, it took me forever to figure out what I wanted to write down.
Maybe part of the problem was I had a lot of words to choose from. After all, three words really aren’t that many. However, I think the bigger problem was no matter what other words I thought of to put down, what I really, really wanted to write was, “She’s my baby.”
My oldest will be in second grade. She is not a baby. She is a huge helper, she is fiercely independent, she is strong, she is fiery, and she would NOT have appreciated me writing down that she is my baby. But oh my goodness—that IS what I want her teacher to know.
It’s probably what I will always want her teachers to know.
She’s my baby. So is her sister. They have their ups and downs. They have great moments that stand out and hard moments that we work through daily. Sometimes they are awesomely kind and strong leaders for all the positive things, and sometimes they need redirection and a moment away to restart. But ALL the time they are my babies. The very best of me that I have to share—the ones I am pouring into, praying for and about, and working with toward all things good for their futures.
And at the end of the day, what I really want from their teachers is to take care of them. Take care of my baby.
Oh, I’ll tell my daughter all day long that she is big. That “It’s your job to ______.” I’ll remind her she needs to be responsible. That she better follow directions and be kind. That she needs to be a helper and a listener and a doer, and that she needs to put into things if she hopes to get anything out of them. But what I’m telling YOU is that she’s my baby and she needs to be taken care of and loved on. And the rest? All those academics? I know they’ll come with the love.
As a teacher, there is absolutely nothing—no professional development, no advice, etc.—that has ever impacted my teaching as much as being a parent to my own kiddos and a lover of my friends’ kiddos. Because as I think about this feeling of sending my baby to someone else for so many hours a day, I’m reminded that each kiddo in my class is someone’s baby too.
Oh, my classes are made up of fourth graders. They are strong and independent and fiery—and they would likely roll their eyes if their parents said to me at open house, “This is my baby, please take care of him.” So instead, their parents say things to me like, “Let me know if you need anything,” and, “Every now and then she struggles with _____,” or, “Sometimes he needs _____.” And every time a parent says, “Please do not hesitate to email or call or text if you need something,” what I know they were hoping I’d hear was, “This is my baby. Please take care of them.”
No matter how big our kids get—I’m talking even high school—I’m fairly certain this urge to remind people that these are our babies doesn’t go away. We want someone to look out for them. To protect them a little. Proactively remind them of the right thing every now and then. Even to “light a fire” under them when needed . . . but gently. Because what we really want as parents is to be absolutely certain the people we are entrusting our kids to for so many hours a day are truly backing our kids and looking out for them in all the ways.
We want them to take care of our babies.
So here’s to a year of academic growth. Of sharing reading joy and inspiring writers. But first and foremost, here’s to a year of loving on these awesome kids who are each someone’s absolute pride and joy, and helping them move forward with confidence and the most comfortable footing possible to stand on. Because every single student is the very best child their parents have to send to school—and every single student is someone’s baby they want to see thrive.