Dearest Teachers of my precious angels,
I have spent some time in the classroom, and it didn’t take me long to discover that teaching wasn’t my gig. I enjoyed being around the kids, and there was some pleasure in seeing them learn new concepts, but the main feedback I got from my supervising instructor was “you seem much more interested in the parents and dynamics of the home”. Guilty as charged. I spent a year with an elementary school music teacher. At the end of the year, I had gotten her officially diagnosed with adult ADHD, created a system for her to stay organized, intervened with an immigrant child who was consistently hungry, and helped to resolve four different conflicts between different teachers, yet nary one music lesson fell from my lips. My supervisor was kind, but let me know that she didn’t see me as a long-term teacher. I couldn’t have agreed more.
But one important insight that time did give me is that a huge percentage of the success of a child depends on parents and the home environment, so I decided that instead of making you guess what happens in the Butler home, I would just write you a letter to give you the inside scoop. I promise to be completely and totally honest in this letter about my skills as a mother, and I am using this letter to also hereby declare that you have my permission to use this letter against me if needed. So like, if I say something ridiculous like “I don’t know how I forgot that, I am usually so on top of things!”, you can cackle in my face and say “Au contraire, mon frere! Your letter proves otherwise!” and then I will mumble something about you needing glasses maybe because I get snarky when I am proven wrong. So here’s what you need to know about me-
– I am 13. I mean, not REALLY, because I have a 10-year-old, so that would mean I had a child at age three and I would be weirdly famous. I mean I like Vampire Diaries and I am totes Team Damon. Whatevs to Team Stephan. I like bands made out of boys. I know who Taylor Swift has dated. And Taylor and me are basically besties. I use the word “besties.” I accidentally taught my six-year-old to say “hella dope.” I will try to be mature, but just know that inside, there is a fangirl freaking out because Justin Timberlake exists.
– I lose things. In fact, you might just go ahead and email me a copy of stuff you send home. I have great intentions, but somehow papers just seem to fly away into a land where they hang out with lost socks. I have devised a system for this year and I have high hopes for it, but if I don’t respond to a request for cookies or help with a trip, don’t feel bad about asking me again.
– I’m not fancy. There is a very good chance that you may never see me in anything other than yoga pants. I’ll wear a shirt too, I’m not THAT unorganized. If I were a teacher, I would strike with my only demand as being allowed to wear yoga pants. I would become a P.E. teacher, even though I have ZERO knowledge of sports, just to wear the pants of the yoga. I have a deep abiding love with my yoga pants. This year, I may even go to a yoga class.
– This is probably the most important thing you need to know about me. If I made a list of the top ten things in the world that contribute to the world being awful, homework might be the top one, right under dental appointments and electronic books. I know, you probably hate it too. But I am THE WORST at helping with homework. (no really- http://followingbutterflies.org/2014/01/29/oh-baby-you-know-i-may-be-a-fool-im-wastin-my-time-by-goin-to-school-the-way-you-got-me-holdin-your-door-i-cant-do-my-homework-anymore/ ) I miss my kids and I don’t like that I have to give up another hour or two when they have already been gone, not to mention that I am about as good at math as I am about making dental appointments and wearing high heels. So, there you go. Full disclosure.
Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong impression that I am just made of flaws. The truth is, Wes and I chose to send our kids to public school intentionally, and we chose our particular school intentionally. So here are some other things that you should know-
– I am fiercely protective of my kids, but I am not a helicopter mom. If they mess up, they clean it up. if they choose not to work hard, I will not rescue them. I expect them to say yes ma’am and please and thank you. If they are disrespectful to you, they will apologize and ask for your forgiveness. I am much more interested in their character development than their math and reading ability. I am a sappy mess about my kids, but I am under no delusion that they are perfect cherubs who would never cause any trouble or be mean to another child.
– I know that you are human and will make mistakes, and you need grace just like I do. I promise that I will not gossip about you to another person or talk badly about you to my kids. I promise that I will come to you directly with any issue. I will remember that you have a life completely outside of your job and that sometimes, teachers have bad days too.
– I long to be involved! Ask me to do stuff, and I will do it. I may have to do it in between live tweeting the MTV Music Video Awards, but it will get done.
– I am navigating the waters of race and attachment with my kids, and I need you to be there with me. Part of being protective of my kids is understanding when a subject or issue might trigger any grief or questions from them. Most of the time, my kids are proud of their adoption stories, and then there are times when they don’t want to be the family that looks different. There are times that Malachi does not want to be black instead of white. There are times that Selah is sensitive to questions about her birth parents. There are moments when stress in our family gets tangled up in attachment, and we have to slow down, reevaluate and engage in more intentional bonding. This might mean that I tell my kids to forgo their homework so we can snuggle. I promise not to abuse this. It might mean that we leave early from an event because it’s too crowded. It might mean that you and I will have conversations about any family history lessons, and it definitely means that I have become much more sensitive to racial tension and micro aggressions.
– My kids have an amazing daddy. I know this is not the case for many of your students. I can identify personally with those students, so my heart is a little broken for them. My husband is a great resource for you when you need a man’s perspective or presence in the classroom. I promise that he will not only help out, but sincerely love all your kids. He’s also incredibly funny and crazy, so anytime you need a silly character (ask our neighborhood kids about Jefferee the Referee), he’s your guy!
– I know that the actual teaching is only a small percentage of your job, and that you are also dealing with a larger system, interpersonal relationships with other coworkers, parents, and a personal life. I promise that you are being prayed for! We are here to support you and help you, because we know that people can rarely do their job well when they do not feel loved and appreciated. I would love nothing more than to know how to serve you best this year, and to be able to be a source of support and friendship for you. If you have a bad week, I’m up for a movie and margarita! If you need a book series to get lost in to distract you, I’m gonna lend you my Harry Potter series. If I catch you crying, you’re getting a hug and a drink from Sonic.
So that’s us. Looking forward to the first day- I’ll be the one in the yoga pants and tears.