This morning I played hooky from my son’s weekly kindergarten reading group.
After a tough week I just couldn’t bear another morning of chaos so I made an excuse about work and said that I would be back next week.
It was a relief to be honest, as while my son just loves me helping out in the classroom, I leave feeling like I have just run a marathon.
A noisy marathon.
It did make me think though about the one person who can’t play hooky. The one person who runs that marathon every day – and actually does a fair amount of that time wearing heels.
I don’t know how you do it.
As I sigh with relief when the bell goes after a morning of put-your-shoes-on and find-your-homework and brush-your-teeth there are days when I gladly hand my children over to their teachers.
It doesn’t cross my mind once the day’s rush of work, and chores and smaller children takes over to pause to think about the teachers who are happily dealing with a group of twenty or more students - happily dealing with my own precious kids.
But this morning as I raced out the gate I looked back and what I saw made me pause for a second and think.
One teacher – a man in his 50’s - a rare age for a man to be teaching these days surrounded by small boys as he taught them to juggle.
Another, a younger woman holding the hands of anxious two twins, weepy after leaving their mother making them smile with a silly game.
And a third plastering a band-aid on the knee of a freckle faced eight-year old, face smudged with tears.
It’s a profession that often doesn’t get much recognition and yet it is one that you chose.
You deal with their snot and their tears and their weird requests and you smile and show up again the next day.
You manage to navigate awkward questions like a pro.
But how did the baby get inside my mummy’s tummy?
What does f.u.c.k spell?
And tread lightly over pockets of information better left unsaid.
My mummy and daddy have a special lock on their door for their afternoon sleep.
You manage to bolster the kids who are flailing, while tending to those charging ahead.
Every day my children come home slightly altered, a fraction more grown, a tiny bit more of a person and it’s all due to you.
Watch this beautiful tribute to a teacher who had died. We dare you not to be moved. Post continues after video.
It is an odd relationship we parents have with teachers. We hand over the care of our children – the very beings we nurtured and sheltered and protected for so many years to a stranger.
And then this stranger helps shape who our children become.
This stranger becomes not just someone who molds them but someone who comforts them when they cry and soothes them when they worry.
A stranger who becomes someone they love.
All too often we blame teachers for outcomes we are unhappy with, we scrutinise and criticise them. We use them as a virtual scapegoat for shortcomings in our children, in the education system. We expect them to perform.
And yet we forget that every day you dedicate your time, your heart to these children.
Teaching is only a tiny part of your job.
You are matchmaker for the children struggling with friendships. Guidance counsellor for those worried about being left out, nurse to those fighting off a cold and boundary maker to the rowdy kids who haven’t yet learnt to control their behaviour.
You are their biggest supporter when they get it finally, and the greatest encourager when they trying. Oh-so-hard but trying.
We all know that you are meant to teach our children, we thank you when they read and spell and marvel when they relate facts we forgot years before but what we forget to acknowledge is the little things.
The lost school jumper pushed back in the school bag.
The new friendship that makes our child smile.
The confidence to skip or kick a ball or shoot a hoop that we didn’t give them.
The silly song that makes them stand up tall.
The year is rushing out from under me, each day seems to be sliding away faster than the one before and before I know it you will be gone out of my child’s life ready to take on a new one.
So while I stop on this day guilty at my opting out but relieved at my escape let me say thank you.
Because you don’t get to opt out do you?
What is your child's teacher like?