September 14, 2019
Experiencing life through the lens of a parent has really convicted, challenged, and rerouted me as an educator. Striving to address the needs of the whole child is so different to me now than in my previous 17 years of teaching. I marvel at how my mindset has shifted in even the simplest of situations, and how much more there is to know that I don’t know… yet.
The last few weeks have been rough. Here’s another example of how my educator lens has changed as a result of being a parent:
Our son is sick. He’s been in child care for three weeks. I’m worried.
Most likely, his nonstop runny nose of 19 days, constant coughing, and all the sick sounds a baby makes at 22-months-old aren’t a big deal to the experienced parent. But they’re a big deal to me. And it’s got me thinking about how our son might be treated at child care–or in any educational setting–when he’s not feeling his best.
All the more, how do educators treat kids who aren’t feeling well? Can routine and flexibility coexist? Will the adults demonstrate patience and consideration, given strict guidelines for meeting expectations?
It’s my fault that my son is sick.
- Have we fed and bathed him properly?
- Is he eating and drinking enough?
- Is there something we could do better in the future to keep him from being sick?
- He doesn’t have a fever, but should we really bring him to child care?
Last night, I finally realized what the famous saying means…
As I slowly rocked back-and-forth, he fell asleep in my arms. In those precious moments of peace between deep coughs and shallow, scratchy gasps for air, the thought came to mind–and camped out there for a while:
My dear son, Myals. I love you. I’m sorry that you’re not feeling well. My heart aches for you. How I wish it was ME instead of you. Keep fighting! I love you.
It’s painful enough to walk up to seemingly total strangers and just give them the most precious thing in your life–your own child for whom you’d kill to ensure safety and well-being. I see kindergarten parents wrestle with this (and I’m not looking forward to those moments, either).
But to entrust strangers with your child when you know your child’s not feeling well, too? That adds another layer of unrest.
Because our son is sick, I’m wondering if the child care’s supervising adults will adapt any of their daily routines and expectations?
There’s a lot to consider:
- Will the adults go easy on him today?
- When he’s off-task or daydreaming, will they grant him grace?
- Will they let him have bathroom breaks whenever he wants?
- Do they have extra tissues?
- Will they wash his hands frequently?
- Are they mindful to respect his personal space, including keeping others away so he doesn’t infect them with his sick germs? Is this really possible with any group of kids?
- If there’s work to make up, or if he missed something, will they share resources so we can catch up at home?
I can’t help but look back on my own teaching career and wonder if I extended enough grace, consideration, leniency, and latitude to anyone in our learning spaces who wasn’t feeling well.
For now, I think I’ve caught a glimpse of how hard parenting can be, at least in the first 22 months.
But I’m wondering what the future holds…