Monday, June 27, 2011

Its so hard to say goodbye . . . to your first grade teacher

I loved Primo’s first grade teacher. Jennifer, from the moment I read her inaugural “welcome to first grade” email sent before the start of school. There was a letter to read to the kids and a letter for the parents to read and the tone was warm and convivial, with tons of detailed information about how the first day would go down. I am a detail junkie, so this wealth of information made my heart go pitter patter. Then we met her, and she was even sweeter than she’d seemed, while being utterly in control of the classroom. Firm but fair. Consistent but kind. As I walked out of school after drop off on the first day, I said to David, “She’s good, isn’t she? Like really good, right? Do you love her? I think she’s the world’s best teacher. I’ve never met a teacher as fantastic as her.” And on that first day of school, I began to panic about how we’d have to say goodbye to her in less than a year’s time.

Maybe it was because Primo had such a colossally awful kindergarten teacher, and such a shitty kindergarten experience, that I was primed to swoon at the first show of competence. And maybe it was the fact that we’ve now experienced such polar extremes of the teacher spectrum, which makes me nervous about what next year holds in store. Whatever the reason, I’m already tearing up.

Its so difficult to surrender control of your kids in the first place and when you have concerns, whether they’re nagging fears or balls-out panic attacks, about the people charged to care for them, it’s an awful feeling. But conversely, nothing feels as good as saying goodbye to your kid and being suffused with the assurance that he’s in good hands, and that he KNOWS he is in good hands. Nothing feels as good as relinquishing your child to someone to whom he goes willingly, who will care for his emotional, intellectual and physical needs, probably more capably than you can, because there isn’t as much passion clouding the picture.

When I think about my own favorite elementary school teachers, I don’t remember being as attached to any one of them as I am to Primo’s. Which makes sense, really, when you think about it. I mean, I loved Marisa Mule, who taught me Kindergarten and I still remember her Wonder-Woman-style mane of wavy black hair and that raspy, Brooklyn accent that was so comforting, but all Marisa Mule could give me was a feeling of security, delight, curiosity. I bet it was my mother who really felt the blow when they had to part ways because to my mother she gave peace of mind.

The value of peace of mind is something I could never have imagined in my before-kids lifetime. Back then, believe or not, I wasn’t a strung-out neurotic and consequently, I had no understanding of what relief from anxiety means. Now, of course, I’m insanely grateful for a few dregs of peace of mind to give me a break from aging before my time. Every day, I want to hire a skywriter that says, “ I HEART YOU JENNIFER, FOREVER! THANK YOU FOR STAVING OFF MY BLEEDING ULCER! LETS NEVER PART!!”

I wish there was a way we could get her to commit to being my children’s educator from this point forward, for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer in sickness and in health, ‘til college do they part.

Since this is impossible, I’ll have to just focus my energy on trying not to break into hysterical sobs when I pick Primo up on the last day of school, like I did when I said goodbye to the dreamboat teachers who taught him in his first-ever year of nursery school. Its just not a good example to set for the kids.