Visiting the first open house before she began kindergarten, my child got lost on the tour.
My wife and I sat in the kindergarten classroom and watched as her soon-to-be classmates rushed into the open arms of their waiting parents. But our child didn’t come back with the group.
She wasn’t in the line, and she wasn’t just lagging behind the group.
She was lost.
And no one could remember where they had last known she was with them.
At first, we weren’t terribly concerned. But as we re-traced the tour group’s path, our hearts raced a bit more with each, “She’s not here either.”
When we finally found her, she was quietly reading while snuggled into one of the giant pillows in the library. She was blissfully unaware of the desperate search for her. Nor did she notice the relief that swept over the school staff when “the missing child” was found.
She had a great year in kindergarten. But somewhere between that first year and her entering your class, she became lost again. Only this time, it wasn’t the type of “lost” with a clear beginning and end.
It was the kind where this child you know so deeply gets replaced by someone altogether different.
This child who abounded in joy, who was cloaked in creativity and enthusiasm and energy, slowly stopped caring about anything related to school or learning or trying. She had come to hate everything about herself, and she tried to soften the pain of failure by not trying at all.
And unlike that first desperate search when she got lost, this time, no one seemed to be looking for her. She was getting through, just getting by, but no one could see the struggle it was for her to just make her way through one more day.
She was lost.
And by some miracle of grace you became her teacher.
And you opened your heart to the child before you, somehow sensing that her story ran deeper than she showed.
My child quickly adored you. She talked of your Super Mario Bros. abilities as if you were a legend. She shared stories about the things you did or said while teaching. She told us of how you had helped her through each particular day in a way that no one else had noticed. She began to look forward to seeing you each day, which meant she wasn’t dreading going to school.
It would be impossible to thank you for all that you have been and done for my child.
You loved her when she didn’t love herself. You nurtured gifts that she had forgotten she even had. You welcomed her to stay with you after school each day. And you embraced her just as she was while always challenging her to live into the fullness of her abilities.
Most of all, you helped her see the difference one person can make in the life of another when you care about them.
Thank you for being her teacher.
Even more, thank you for finding my child.