“Oh my gosh,” laughed one of the girls. “Do you remember the time I opened my binder and acorns fell out all over the floor.”
The kids joined her laughter.
“Yeah, my little brother Jack is the biggest hoarder,” the kid’s sister informed her friend who had joined our carpool for a ride home. “He used to hide things everywhere.” I wish “used to” was true. I found a bottle of blue food coloring in the couch the other day. Thankfully with it’s lid still on. My word.
Acorn Girl continued, “Those nuts were so loud and went everywhere. Of course it didn’t stop there. The next day when I was at my teacher’s desk, I needed to get something out of my backpack. I reached into the front pocket and found two bars of soap and a big bouncy ball. She laughed so hard. And it became like a game to see what Jack would hide in my stuff every day.”
“She’s the best teacher,” I offered from the front seat. And she is. I can’t think of any teacher that would have been better or more fun to have had with our little hoarder’s surprise stashes. She made something that could have been embarrassing fun.
Later that day I was riding with my fourth-grader who happens to have that same sweet gal as his teacher.
“Guess what?” he asked.
“I passed my division time drill today. … and I’ve almost made it to ‘X’ on the challenges. Mrs U gives us clues. She won’t tell the answer, but she makes it fun with cool clues.”
“She’s really great, isn’t she?” I ask, thinking about the acorn and soap conversation earlier. She’s taught most of my kids, creating fun memories for each of my very different personalities.
“You know what?” I turn to my shotgun passenger. “Let’s call her and tell her.”
So I did.
“Hey A? It’s Kay. Just wanted you to know we were sitting here thinking of you and what a great teacher you are. Do you remember the acorns and soap a few years ago? You are the only teacher that could have made that so fun. And this year, boy have you got a fan. You’ve made learning a blast … something that he genuinely embraces. Thanks for all you do. We love you and are grateful for you.”
When I hung up, I turned my conversation back to the kid next to me. “Listen, whenever you’ve got someone on your mind, try to stop and let them know. You can take two seconds out of your day to make a quick call and leave a message. Or text to let them know you’re thinking about them. Try to share something specific. Its such a small thing. But it can mean a lot.”
Was he listening? I don’t know. Sometimes I think they just endure me.
And on we went.
Until the next day, which happened to be Valentine’s Day … and school parties. When I raced in from one kid’s room into the other’s, I saw Mrs U. She caught my eye from across the room and B-lined my way with the broadest smile shining from her sweet face.
“Thank you,” she earnestly said. “You have no idea what you did for me yesterday. I listened to your message three times … then played it for my husband. I might have even cried. It did more for me than you will ever know.” She hugged me. “I left a note inside Fury’s backpack. Please read it.” Then she capped it off with heart-felt “Thank you” as she went back to opening Valentines from her class.
It was the tiniest little nothing of a phone call. But, her note said it all. She had come off one of those days that took it out of her. In the midst of wondering, as we all do, is it worth it? Am I making a difference? Does anyone care? She got our message. And it put fuel in her tank.
The lesson for me? Make the call. Rather than shrug it off, procrastinate, forget or just not notice, take a few moments to put wind in someone’s sail. It was a great reminder. And a wonderful teaching opportunity for my kid. Real, hands-on, genuine eyes off self and on someone else action. Something I keep telling them (and reminding myself) that just might be the secret sauce to life.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Kay, once again thank you for warming my heart and moistening my eyes. I taught for 30 years and yes I was thanked at the end of the year. After the Christmas gifts, Mother’s Day gifts and Father’s Day gifts, not to mention the gorgeous cards all wrought with 5 year old hands and materials bought with my own money, you’d think you would hear a thank you for those special tokens but it never happened.;(. I appreciate what you and Jon are cultivating in your charges. He was a wonderful Teacher. I wish you could have seen him in action. His kids adored him! So did we!