Hail to the middle

It hits me every year. The last week of school arrives and I feel a most deep and sincere gratitude for the amazing people who have spent countless hours with my children teaching them everything from reading to writing to arithmetic to how to be kind and compassionate citizens of our planet. This year is no exception.

Both of our daughters are currently in what was called junior high back in my day and now goes by the name of middle school. “I wish I could go back to my middle school years”, says no one ever… though actually I once met a lady who said those were her favorite years. My own experience was quite to the contrary. I hated those years. I was desperate to fit in, regularly angry at my mom, and didn’t like myself at all. It was confusing and miserable and I felt fat and out of sync. I hoped for something different for my own daughters.

Due to good fortune, in a random lottery sort of way, our oldest daughter was chosen to experience a kinder, gentler middle school experience. She then pulled her sister into the same. In our home, we had previously experienced a base middle school, magnet middle school as well as a private school, which of course required a financial commitment beyond our tax dollars. None of these situations came all that close to providing what I would call “a mostly positive experience.” With gratitude, I can now say that for children #s 4 and 5, we have moved into such territory.

I have tremendous love and admiration toward all who choose to teach children. I have written of this before and described them as some of the most incredible people on the planet. I stand by that assessment. But I have always said that middle school teachers, even a bit more than any other grade level in this sacrificial profession, seem to have a true call upon their lives. They just do. When such a divine match is made, they stay for years and years and years and wholeheartedly love and appreciate the awkward, identity seeking, sometimes goofy pupils that enter their classroom each and every year. They get joy out of doing life with children living through a stage that many a parent just desires to hold their nose and get through as quickly and painlessly as possible.

One of our daughter’s 7th grade teachers announced that she was pregnant this year. The strong bond and connection that my girl has with this teacher has been growing and was demonstrated in numerous ways throughout the year. Our girl used to go to bed every night and make lists of baby names for her teacher to consider. When they learned that this baby was a boy, she narrowed in and focused on coming up with the best boy name possible for this teacher that she loves.

Last week, a surprise baby shower was given in honor of this soon to be mommy. A bookcase was made and each student brought in a favorite title to share with the soon to arrive little boy. My girl took much thought and care in choosing one of her very own childhood favorites. It was a tough call, required some back and forth discussion and ultimately became a toss up with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I had a copy of Fly Eagle Fly on hand, so it won out.

Her teacher arrived and as predicted, she was shocked and tears began to flow. I heard her say something like, “I love these kids and this place.” Another mom noted, “this is why teachers do what they do.”

Along with the carefully chosen book, my girl wrote a letter to this beloved teacher. It kind of says it all:


Dear _____,

You have been a great teacher and you have taught me so much this year. I know that you would make a wonderful mother and I want for you to make his life special. You have taught me so many things and have helped shape me into who I am today. I want to thank you for this wonderful year and experiences. You have taught me to be carefree, open up and be the best version of me, along with grammar and prepositions. Teach your little boy the many things you taught me and make his life wonderful.

This little boy will be your pride and joy, while also being a great responsibility. Remember to always be as fair as possible when faced with hard decisions. Teach him to be kind, compassionate and truthful, while also giving him his own space. Let him be himself, but also keep an eye open for his wellbeing. Most importantly, love him and tell him that.

I love reading and a big part of it is because my parents read to me when I was young. I always enjoyed my bedtime story and I want for your kid to grow up around books too. Read him so many different stories and take him to magical worlds with the most unbelievable creatures. Introduce him to the wonders of reading and stories.

I want for you to have the most fun as a mother and also to grow as a mother.

Remember, a baby makes love stronger, the days shorter, the nights longer, savings smaller and a home happier. [Pinterest gets credit for that sentence.] Have fun and congratulations. I wish you many happy memories.

Best of luck,

My girl’s beautiful signature

Again, I say hail to the middle!

PS I did love to read to my kids but not all my kids love to read as much as this one. Just keeping it real…