My first teacher

My siblings and I grew up with the great good fortune of having an awesome preschool teacher as a mother. Aside from the fact that Mom knows lots of fun, silly little songs and games– she possesses a genuine affection for small children, which is not always true of every person (or even every parent). Mom never hesitated to join in the game. She let us play in the rain, and taught us to ride our bikes, and encouraged us to get our hands dirty (see?!?!?! My germophobia is NOT based on childhood trauma. It’s innate. I can’t help it).

Mom started working at a local preschool when I was in college, and she quickly became the director there– a role she has held for many years. It is virtually impossible to go anywhere in my hometown without a child or a parent greeting her with delight. Mom has that magic you-have-it-or-you-don’t ability to relate to children in a way which doesn’t come off as childish, yet is completely on their level. She doesn’t use baby talk, yet she is very clear. She really listens to the kids, and then she responds to their ideas. I learned from my mom’s example that, when a small child is speaking with you, you should kneel or sit or squat. Do something: just get down to their level, because that’s when they hear you. That’s when you will connect. My mom has been sitting on the floor– getting down to the kids’ level in order to help them rise– for her entire life.

When I asked 3-year-old Gabby if she could say and sign the alphabet, and she recited a list of words like “orange” and “seven” while flipping me off– I said, “Eh, that’s okay. Mom will teach her.” When young Cammy was going through a phase and spent lots of time in timeout aka “on the purple rug” in school, Mom didn’t even tell me about it until later– because “You didn’t need to know. We were taking care of it.” When I was worried that Addie might have a fine motor disability, Mom helped me get her tested. And when the testing revealed no treatable issues, Mom helped me find ways to work on it with Addie. And mine are only three of the kids that Mom helped, patiently, optimistically, indelibly.

Mom has spent her life paving the way for children to make their futures. I couldn’t have done what she has done. What a bright achievement, and a lasting legacy.

Mom retires tomorrow. She is ready. She has accomplished so much, and she has been an integral part of the childhood of hundreds (thousands, Mom? I don’t have any idea?) of kids– who share my respect for, and love of, their amazing preschool teacher. We are so, so proud of you, Mom. Dad is so proud of you. So many people love you.

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