“Only one person in a million becomes enlightened without a teacher’s help.” Bodhidharma
Facebook has this “Memories” function where posts made on this day in previous years are brought up to the surface. This reminder came up yesterday: it’s a blog I posted two years ago on Parent’s Night (aka Back to School Night). I remembered the early grief of that night, blindsiding both Maki and I. When I read it, I don’t even recognize the grief through the words I try to explain (though I do remember how hard it was seeing the tears of a babysitting Maki at home, when I returned that night. It was a low point on my memory chart for sure.) What struck me most during tonight’s perusal, was that I had mentioned Mrs. Rosien, Maki’s middle school art teacher. This is what I wrote:
And then I visited the 4th Period classroom: Mrs. Rosien’s Advanced Art. She began to talk about how she she loved this elective class because the students actually wanted to be there. They were all students she had known for 2-3 years. I realized that Maki had been taking one of her classes every year since he arrived at this school. That she was actually one of the consistent people in his life. She probably didn’t even know it. And on top of that, she is one of those teachers who walks in pure encouragement and love. Out of the blue, I was touched to the core. I started leaking from the eyes…in a room with 15-20 other adults. Oh dear.
Mrs. Rosien was there for Maki all the rest of the year too. Mrs. Rosien was the only one in a room full of teachers concerned with his 8th grade report card (when all I could do is cry and shrug—horrible memory) who stood up to say: “He is one of the brightest and most talented students I’ve ever had. He is extremely intelligent. I will be happy to check his school loop for homework every day after class so that Allison doesn’t have to.” Though Maki is starting his second year of High School now, Mrs. Rosien was at BOTH Vernon’s memorials in support of Maki. I won’t forget her goodness. These are the rare kinds of teachers we remember through our lives.
Two weeks ago, it was time for Parent’s Night again. His teachers seemed great all around and very supportive about Maki, especially as they knew of his dad’s recent passing. I didn’t fall apart at all. One week ago, it was Parent’s Night at Justine’s school. I was having a harder week, at least a harder afternoon, and when I walked into the First Grade classroom and saw all those parents sitting at their children’s mini-desks, I realized I couldn’t bear staying. I didn’t even stick around to make my child a special bookmark. I did tell the teacher though, whose eyes filled up with tears of her own as she mirrored my expression. That was enough for me to love her for life.
Today, however, I began my first jaunt of being a room-mom. I KNOW! I’m pretty excited/nervous about it. I missed this opportunity the last two years of Justine’s schooling, always out on the road, unable to commit to one morning a week. It’s a big deal for me, starting a new responsibility, even if it is just reading in a circle with the kids or copying papers. It feels like a job. I even have to get fingerprinted!
Today, I got to laminate bookmarks and self-portraits-by-crayon. (I made sure to make up for last week and color one on the spot for Justine.) It was a strange thing to stand in the office, running oddly shaped bits of paper through the laminating machine, thinking: “This is my life now, playing with scissors, preserving first grader’s artwork. Preserving memories. Supporting the cultivators” Though it seemed so banal, it felt like PURPOSE. It felt good.
(This is the kid I want to meet.)
I hear the official first day of fall is next week. It’s about time I get into the back-to-school spirit with the kids. They, as usual, are way ahead of me.