*APPROXIMATELY FIVE YEARS AGO*
“Excuse me. What is this?”
About ten minutes before, I had just discovered a crumpled up, apple-shaped piece of paper. I did not recognize the writing, but it had obviously been written by an adult. As I opened the paper up, and spread it out so I could read it, I realized it was a note home from a teacher.
My oldest daughter was in Kindergarten, and was already in trouble at school. Sigh…
“What’s what, daddy?” she replied. She smiled so innocently as she looked up at me.
“THIS” I said, as I held it up to her eye level.
“I don’t know,” she sheepishly said.
“You don’t recognize this apple? This apple was under your booster seat.”
“I don’t know, daddy.”
“It looks like a note from your teacher.”
“It says here that you were disruptive to the class today. It says you were very talkative. It says right here you had to go sit away from all the other students because you were such a distraction.”
“Hmmm…I don’t remember that apple, daddy.” She looked up and smiled at me so sweetly, and I remember thinking to myself what I would have done, had my teacher given ME an apple like that to give to my parents.
Of course I talked to her about why it was important to pay attention in class and not disrupt other students. I explained to her how sometimes it is very difficult on kids to concentrate in school whether the person sitting next to them is talking or not. She didn’t get in a lot of trouble, but a stern “talking to” was had that evening.
*FAST-FORWARD FIVE YEARS*
My oldest two are in 4th and 6th grades. Quite often, a parent signature is required on paperwork, school work, homework, notebooks, field trip permission slips, etc. I now sit back and ponder when exactly it was that I perfected my dad’s signature. Then, I wonder to myself if my kids are practicing mine. Soon, they will be writing their own doctor appointment notes and riding home on the bus with so and so notes, and I’ll be none the wiser. Well, hopefully not.
I say that with my a smile, because I’m not so sure my kids will end up exactly like I was in school. They have not received one single negative note home since that day. I don’t necessarily snoop through their stuff, but if I do happen to help clean up in their room, I don’t find notebook paper with mine or my ex-wife’s signature jotted down 300 times.
I’m sitting here thinking about this today, because last week I got an e-mail from my fourth grader’s teacher. I always get nervous when I see e-mails from teachers, because I always assume the worst. However, the one I got last week reads:
“I wanted to let you know that your daughter is transitioning nicely into our school’s family and our classroom. Her desire to learn is evident as she is focused during learning times, participates in class discussions and is responsible with her assignments.
It is a pleasure having her in my class!”
I remember clicking on the little “Gmail” icon on my phone at work, opening up that email, and just grinning from ear to ear. Being a parent is tough work, don’t get me wrong. When you’re doing it wrong, you almost always know it. Whenever you’re doing it right, however, you don’t always get an email to remind you that you’re doing a good job.
Sometimes it really is the little things to bring a smile to someone’s face. I know one thing, I couldn’t WAIT to see her to pull up my email up and say “Excuse me. What is this?!”