Life with Kids – My Messy Beautiful

Personal Space                        messy-beautiful-700b

I am a parent. I am a teacher. Sometimes I’m good at one or the other of these jobs. Sometimes I’m crashing and burning at both. I can’t remember a time when I felt like I was good at both at the same time.

But I feel immensely lucky to be both. Children are entrusted to my care. Children. Young children. Smart, beautiful, thoughtful, irritating, kind, funny, annoying, special children. I am trusted with them.

When it comes to my own daughters, that isn’t terribly surprising. There’s a general assumption that I will care for them well. Why, is not always clear to me. I remember leaving the hospital when my oldest was born ten years ago wondering why the experts at the hospital were letting us take that tiny baby with us. We knew not a thing about caring for her. How could we possibly be trusted? They did check to be sure we had a car seat. That seemed like an awfully low bar. But, apparently, if you manage all the steps leading up to giving birth, you are trusted with a child.

As a teacher, it feels like a bit more of a conscious entrusting of children to me. I teach first graders. For many this is only the second year they’ve been away from home all day. I feel the honor of that trust. The trust that I will teach these children, but even more importantly that I will care for and love them.

I understand this as a parent. My own daughters are both in school. One is a fifth grader, the other is right across the hall from me in first grade. They both have absolutely phenomenal teachers. Even knowing that, some days I send them off hoping for the best in their day, crossing my fingers for them, worrying that their young, fragile selves will have to struggle too much. I trust, sometimes easily and sometimes not so easily, that their teachers will see my girls clearly and with love. I trust these teachers to do their very best for my girls.

Then there are the days when trust is easy. Not because my girls seem less fragile but because they have managed to drive me insane before 7:30 in the morning. Because, as we’re ready to walk out the door someone’s shoes are missing. Or the process of getting dressed and brushing teeth is just too onerous for one. Or one looks at the other and causes a fight resulting in someone stomping back upstairs in tears. On those days I am happy to hand them over to anyone else who is willing to take responsibility for them.

I’m sure the parents of my students have days like that as well. Days where they don’t think too hard about my qualifications as a teacher or my general goodness as a person. Days where the fact that I willingly take their child for seven hours is enough.

This is the amazing thing about life with kids. The time we have with them is limited, they change so quickly. No matter how well we know that, they can drive us absolutely out of our minds and make us happy to send them off, to school, to the park, to a military convent (that’s what my father wanted for me and my sister). To wherever they will go that will give us a moment’s peace.

Luckily, the wonder that is children means that we welcome them back.

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