Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I know, I can't believe it either. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to present at an early childhood conference on a topic I am quite passionate about- improving communication between working parents and those who care for our children. I partnered with the Director of our childcare center and we delivered a presentation that sought to build empathy for both groups and relay best practices for communication. We ended the presentation by reading a thank you note each of us wrote to the other person. In this season of gratitude, I am sharing this letter on the blog. I hope it reaches every single person who cares for young children. Your parents may not always articulate what you mean to them, but I know I speak on behalf of so many. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.
You didn’t see me the other day as I stood outside the door. As I was leaving that morning, I heard my son crying. I peered through the glass as I saw him sitting at a table while you, hands gently on his arms, knelt down to look right into his eyes. As he told you about the problem he had encountered you never lost his gaze. You talked to him and listened. To almost anyone else in the world his problem would have been the smallest, most insignificant issue. Maybe he didn’t get to play with his favorite truck. Maybe he had trouble sharing. But you listened as if it was the biggest problem because you know that for him, they’re all big problems.
I held back every motherly instinct to rush in and rescue him. I didn’t need to. I have you.
I have you to listen to my children every day about the big problems, the little discoveries and the joyful celebrations. I have you to hug them when it seems like their tears will never stop falling. I have you to help us teach them how to be responsible, loving citizens of the world who realize that sharing means twice as much fun, twice as many friends and twice as much happiness.
Each day when I’m at work I am surrounded by photos of my family in colorful frames. Their smiling faces remind me that the hard work I do provides them with opportunities for a wonderful life. But it’s hard and I feel guilty for the time when I’m not near them. And that’s why I’m so grateful I have you. You have become part of the fabric of their lives. You are my village and I am so honored that you chose children as your life’s calling. I don’t know how you do it. How you smile when I’m sure your head is throbbing, how you listen to the little things like they’re big things all day long. You deal with the messiest of human beings and you wake up every day to do it all over again. You are amazing.
And last week, you didn’t see me again. I came in to pick up my son and peeked around a corner to see you sitting outside of a bathroom stall. Inside was my precocious, wonderful son trying to use the potty. And knowing that those things take time, you sat outside reading his favorite book while he giggled. And I giggled. Because that is the kind of loving act that only a parent could possibly have the patience for. But you’re not a parent yet and yet here you are in the very trenches with us. Thank you for every book, every dance, every song, and every hug. My children are better people because you’re in their lives. We are better parents for the information you give us every day. And the world is a better place because people like you care so much for the very smallest of us.
Thank you so very much,
Love, a Working Parent