Dear Teacher: Thank You And I’m Sorry

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
summer slide
Imgorthand / iStock

Well, the day has finally come — the first day of school.

As I hand over my child, I will first tell you thank you. Thank you for allthethings. After barely surviving the past 95 days at home with my sweet cherubs, I was reminded once again just how much we need you. I don’t know how you do it, but you deserve all the awards, dollars, and wine for dealing with these rugrats all day. Seriously.

Following closely on that big giant thank-you, I will give you an almost as big I’m sorry. Back in May, I had big plans for all the educational enrichment we would do over the summer. We would have a family book club! We would practice math facts! We would do science experiments in the kitchen and learn Spanish and play the piano! Summer slide? What summer slide? My kids would come back to school in September even smarter than they were in May.

Yeah…about that…

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that the summer slide turned into the “summer slip and slide” for us because we fell hard and fast and clumsily off whatever educational development train we were on. We had good intentions of reading more books during the summer, but the days were hot and the swimming pool beckoned to us.

I’m sorry for letting the activity sheets sit unfinished and blank, for not keeping a writing journal or doing math facts or practicing flash cards. I had plans to implement some educational time each day, but some days it took all my energy just to keep my kids from killing each other. Math facts just weren’t in the cards. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that we aren’t even remotely familiar with this concept known as a “schedule” right now. We ate popsicles in the living room and dinner in front of the television. Bedtimes slipped later and later until we weren’t even sure what time bedtime really was anymore. A swim in the pool passed as a bath for days (weeks?) on end. We ate cookies and cupcakes for breakfast some days, and had scrambled eggs and pancakes for dinner on other days. And for that, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for all the good habits we didn’t have and all the bad habits we did have over the summer.

We stayed up late. We spent days and weeks and months at the swimming pool. We jumped off the diving board about 783 times. We picked shells up off the bottom of the lake and learned how to throw a knuckleball. We climbed trees and took road trips. We watched lots of movies and ran in the rain. We played Pokémon Go and ate lots of junk food. We were lazy and busy all at the same time. We were silly and playful and unscheduled.

In other words, we spent the summer acting like little kids. And while I’m sorry for a lot of things, I’m not sorry for that. Childhood is a short and sweet season — just like summer — and sometimes you need to throw the list of “shoulds” out the window and squeeze out every drop of sweetness that you can.

You get it. I know you do. You understand that kids need to be kids. So maybe my apologies for all that we didn’t get done are less apologies to you as they are apologies to me, because in this busy-do-more culture we live in, it’s easy to get sucked into the guilt trap of inadequacy simply for letting our kids be kids.

So as I drop off my sweet cherub disguised as a feral heathen, I give you the most heartfelt thank you and I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the first week (oh, who are we kidding the first several weeks) we will be a shitshow of overtired kids who forgot how to sit still for 10 minutes, let alone read a chapter book or work on math facts. Our relaxed bedtimes, sugar comas, and general sloth of the summer will make your oh-so-very-hard job even harder.

I’m sorry that while you are dealing with your own the painful transition back into the school year, you will also be helping these tanned, sticky, wild creatures called your students transition into the school year too. I’m sorry for those early days when you’ll want to hide in the janitor’s closet with a bottle of bourbon, but will instead paste on a smile to great these blurry-eyed hoodlums with nothing but enthusiasm and warmth as you ask eagerly, “What did you do all summer?”

And you know that the answer will not be “practiced math facts” or “finished my reading log” because kids should be kids.

Thank you. And I’m sorry. You are nothing short of a superhero. Godspeed. Only 276 days until next summer.

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