I realize we are just getting to know each other. It’s been a few days now, and we are falling into the familiar routine we both happily abandoned at the beginning of summer. I appreciate your phone call before the school year started where we spoke about my daughter’s allergies. The personable demeanor you demonstrated over the phone seamlessly translated into the classroom.

As we get through these first weeks of Pre-K together, I hope with every breath I take, that this positive relationship thrives. Soon the pleasantries of a new year will give way to a more harried mother. You’ve seen me every morning with my hair done, makeup on and wearing pants that actually button. It won’t be long before I show my truer self. Someone who resembles me, but shows up five minutes late to your classroom in my favorite pair of yoga pants, and my hair in messy ponytail.

The more comfortable she gets in your classroom, the more she will show you her true colors too. The shy girl that I leave you with in the morning, the one who cries and doesn’t let go of my leg, will soon become a little more talkative. Okay, perhaps a lot more talkative…and loud.

You may find yourself joyfully going about your morning, walking around the room supervising playtime, when all of a sudden you hear a glass-breaking shriek. That sound will most likely be coming from my brown-eyed girl. It could be for a myriad of reasons, which I’m afraid she won’t be able to communicate to you. Perhaps a child took the toy she was playing with, or she is sitting on the pink star when she wants to sit on the green one.

When the inevitable happens, I beg you please don’t give up on my child.

I ask that you give us time to get to know you. I hope that after one bad incident, she won’t spend the rest of the year being ignored or avoided. I pray that you won’t label her as ‘difficult’ or ‘spirited.’ While I realize these are easy ways to describe my precious girl, they have a negative connotation. At the same time, if you ever DO use those words to describe her, I won’t be upset. I will understand because it’s not the first time I’ve heard it.

I’m hoping that you pack extra patience when she comes to you in the classroom and asks for something, and you can’t understand her the first time. Her father and I have spent a LOT of money on private speech therapy, and are optimistic that soon others will understand her sloppy sentences.

After you’ve asked her to repeat herself for the third or maybe forth time, and you both become frustrated, please don’t give up on my child.

All summer I’ve been working very hard with her on self-control. It’s with a lot of hope and optimism that while she is in your class, she won’t be tempted to react in rage when she encounters other children. The doctors tell me it’s too early to tell if this is caused by something chemically wrong in her brain, or just behavioral issues that can be addressed at home. I’m asking you to just trust me when I tell you if she hits another child, I will do everything in my power to address the situation at home. I will talk to the other parent, we will offer apologies, then I will read her more books explaining that hands are not for hitting.

All I ask of you is that you don’t give up on my child.

When I come into your classroom for our parent-teacher conferences, I want to give you fair warning that I’m a crier. If you tell me she is falling behind, disrupting class or any other unfortunate news it will make me feel like I’m failing as a parent. Even though, I know your intentions are coming from the right place I may get defensive at first, then collapse in tears. I will try to remember to bring tissues in my purse, but in case I forget I might need to delve into your stash of Kleenex. I will trust your viewpoint, listen to what you have to say, and bring in another box of tissues for the classroom.

Let me cry, I’ll get over it. Just please don’t give up on my child. 

When Christmastime rolls around, and you are stressed trying to coordinate the annual show for parents, please let her participate. I know she struggles to stand still, and conformity is not her thing, but together I’m sure we can find something for her to do. She may not sing on cue, or remember her lines when retelling the story of Jesus’ birth, but the girl can dance.

Instead of giving up on my child, I’m asking you to let her dance.

On the playground when she chooses to go off by herself and play, it would be great if you would encourage her to interact with other students. She may listen, or she might give you a blank stare, but you would make this mommy so happy if you tried. I know you have a lot going on, and ensuring social interaction between my child and another is a lot of work, so if you can’t do this I will understand.

Just please don’t give up on my child.

During art or anything creative, she may not sit down at the table with the other kids. This girl’s imagination will blow your mind, but it’s hard to tame. This imagination may cause her to sit on her knees, or jump up and down beside her chair as she explores the depths of her perception. Other students may stare at her and ask questions, which may hinder craft time. But if it’s not, can you choose to focus on the outcome of her project, and not the journey it took to get there? Creativity is one of her strong suits and it’s something her dad and I are trying to encourage, so any wiggle room (literally) here is greatly appreciated.

As she moves about the classroom, please don’t give up on my child.

When the time comes for her pre-K assessment and results, please understand these will be BIG days for us. Regardless of what the assessment says about our sweet girl, she has fought incredibly hard to get here. Whatever the results are it would be awesome if we could just celebrate her reaching this milestone. If she doesn’t pass, or you have grave concerns, let’s talk about them open and honestly.

On these days, I may need more tissues, but please don’t give up on my child.

As I write this at the beginning of the school year, it’s honestly hard to believe I may have a kindergartner this time next year. The thought of her graduating from preschool is overwhelming. But I believe it can happen. My girl was a miracle in birth, and has been proving people wrong everyday of her life.

When you look at her, please remember this. A doctor told me she would never be, a specialist told me she may never speak, and many people have given up on her in her short time on this earth. Yet, there she sits in your classroom able to put sentences together, and participate in class. Her success may not look the same as another kid’s, no doubt she will test your patience, but the people who know her love her. I’m willing to bet, sooner rather than later, you will become one of those people. 

She is the child that won’t stand still in line, but will instantly still when you embrace her.

She is the child that quickly snaps and takes a toy from a peer, but then holds that same child when she sees her crying a minute later.

She is the child that will talk out of turn, but will also listen with empathy if you or another student shares something sad or heartwarming.

She is the child that tends to be overly-sensitive, but loves without inhibition or fear.

She is the child that will color outside the lines, but wants so desperately to fit in and make friends.

She is the child that may not eat in your classroom due to an anxious stomach, but comes home and raids our refrigerator.

She is the child that people underestimate because she is pretty, but are blown away when she does an advanced puzzle in two minutes or less.

She is the child that will lie straight to your face, but then ask God for mercy and forgiveness because she believes in redemption.

She is my sunshine, and I never want someone to take away her light.

So please, PLEASE, don’t give up on her.

Kimberly Patterson

Kimberly Patterson is a writer, wife and mother of two adorable, over-zealous toddlers. She spends her days in yoga pants, pecking away at the keys on her laptop and pulling her kids off of whatever household furniture they climb upon. She has been published on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Her View From Home, The Mighty, and several other publications. Read more of her insights at truthisinthewriting.com.