Dear Preschool Teachers, I hope you know how important you are. I want you to know how much you are appreciated. You’ve shrugged it off before (the compliment) like, it’s just your job, just your day to day. But I have seen you soothe the most frantic children, your voice calm and your loving grip never loosening even as you take tiny fists and feet to the face. How you hold those little bodies and pat their backs while they squirm and struggle; whisper comfort in their ears as they whimper, brows furrowed, worrying about mommy and daddy . How you pry, ever so gently, but with unwavering determination, the crying and clingy ones from their exhausted mommas; you wrap them up in strong arms as they fight and flail and shower your face with screams; those trembling mommas falter in their self-doubt, yearning for peace and solitude but tied by guilt and empathy, yet your steady eyes and your firm nod reassure as you usher them out the door to their freedom – your baby is safe with me. I have seen you rock those crying babies for hours, your patience infinite and enduring. How you zip jackets and wiggle tiny fingers into sticky gloves and blow noses that are not your own. How you remember which little one likes their sandwich cut into squares and who can’t have cheese and the words to all the ridiculous rhymes and the right way to tug at Molly’s backpack to unstick the zipper and where Sally left her unicorn blanket and how to get Billy to finally settle down.
How you sigh and persevere through your own distractions – those troubles you left behind this morning – you tuck them away, under your smock and behind your endless smile, saving them for nighttime when you are alone and can unclench for a few stolen moments to cry. I have seen you look off towards the fractured pain of your own broken heart when you thought no one was watching, and then suck it back in with a swallow and a sigh so you could be the pillar of comfort and strength for other women’s children. How you tenderly take this babe and clean her, cooing and smiling into her trusting eyes – eyes that are not of your eyes – and you wipe her and fold her soiled diaper, freshening her so that she may toddle unencumbered back to her blocks and dolls. How you mop up spills, bandage scraped knees, admonish the teasers and console the teased, shake mulch from little shoes, wrap up pants wet from accidents, read books and dance dances, explain and redirect, and explain again, and always offer a lap or a hug or a warm hand;
How you give a bit of yourself every day to our children…
You are a hero:
to the little ones who can finally close their eyes at nap, to those who giggle and dance to your silly songs, to those who beam with pride at their Crayola masterpiece, and to those who feel a little less scared in your presence.
You are a hero:
to the moms and dads who trust you daily with their most precious possession so they may build their own livelihoods, and to the women who need those few morning hours to laugh or run or cry or just breathe.
©Skye Nicholson 2020