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Dear Teachers, You Matter

All of a sudden, here I am in the middle of my kitchen bawling like a big fat sad cry baby.  We had one of those nights where everything was going wrong.  Practice for my 6-year-old ran late, in the rain and he was crying because he didn’t want what I had fixed for dinner that night.  It’s already late and I just want to get everyone fed, cleaned and in bed. Including myself.  One is in my ear whining about wanting a cheeseburger or something and the other two are playing chase through the house. 

I finally explode: “No! Just go away! I’m not cooking anything else.  Everyone be quiet!”  

I turn to find out I’m just yelling to an empty room. So, here I am stomping around the kitchen and accidentally knock a backpack over that is, of course, in the middle of the floor.  A folded piece of paper falls out of the side pocket and I wasn’t at all prepared for what it said.  


Dear Mrs. Blount –

I have been wateing for the right time to tell you that I know you are chring your hardest to help me in school. I always wanted you as my teacher so God gave me the courage to write you this note because you are my favorite teacher.  Your nice and give me grace and im sorry im not treating you the way you want to b treated.  So I am sorry and I hope we are still friends and I am sorry for the way I act somethimes   - Love Reece (with a smiley face)

It was a letter from my 9-year-old son to his 3rd grade teacher.  I stood in shock as I read the words, not once but at least three times.  I hate to admit it but I instantly thought he had done something wrong. My “glass-half-empty” mind had me thinking that he had gotten in trouble. I read some sort of half-attempt at an apology in it that left me concerned.  I walked over to the kitchen table where my husband was sitting and laid it out in front of him.  He looked at me and then back down at the note, and almost dismissed it for a second then he recognized the handwriting. “Where did you get this?” he asked.  “It fell out of the side pocket of his bag. Over there.”  And by the time I could look back at him he is tearing up, hands over eyes, visibly moved.  We questioned one another and tried to figure out the meaning behind the note for a solid 10 minutes. 

“What is this about?” I asked.

“Did he write this?” My husband wondered.

“Did something happen in school?”  This question wasn't just from me, but both of us.

I heard Reece get out of the shower and come back downstairs. We were both headed to the couch, swooping in like the army rangers, to figure out the reasoning behind this note. 

We started in at the same time: “Is this your letter?”  “Did you write this?”

A dismissive yes was the response to both questions without even taking his eyes off the TV screen. 

Then, as I try my best to get his attention, “Reece, look at me for a second, please.”  He gives me this weird, "what’s the big deal I’m watching my show" face.  "Did something happen in school with Mrs. Blount?  Did you get in trouble?"

“Ummm No.” 

"Then why did you write this?"

Eyes roll and the TV remote goes on pause.  He looked at me and my husband and said, “During aftercare, before we could have snack or go out for playtime, the teacher told us to either 1) practice writing our spelling words 2) practice our cursive letters or 3) write a nice note to someone.  I chose to write the note.”   He shrugs like no big deal and turns his attention back to the TV screen.  We try one more time to get his attention so that he could understand how much we were touched by his genuine and heartfelt expression of feelings.  He shrugs and smiles like he kind of gets it and goes back to the program. 

Nothing had happened.

He didn’t get in trouble or was behaving badly.

He was just writing a nice note to his teacher.

What's big here is that this is a kid who is a really hard nut to crack.  Total introvert. Needs his space and time to wind down from the daily grind of school.  Never impressed with much of anything but when he is, boy it is big.  To see real joy on his face is not often. When you do, it lights up the room. Not one to show too much emotion or expression, he’s a hard read to say the least. We’ve been struggling some lately with school.  Things are increasingly more difficult this year with the introduction of “independent” work and lots and lots of reading.  We are struggling with reading - a lot. We can see he’s discouraged and frustrated.  His teacher has been gracious with him and us while we work to figure things out.  She sees exhaustion in him when he “just checks out” and finds a way to turn it around. 

So to all the teachers out there, these kids of ours that you are spending more time with than we are, they do care.  They may not all show it but they care.  We care that a room full of 21 9-year-olds can be hard to manage some days. I care that you don’t immediately label him as dumb or lazy and write him off.  He cares that you might not get treated the way you want to be treated. 

Maybe one day, one of them will get the courage to write you a nice note instead practicing their spelling words.

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