Teacher Appreciation Week: An Emotional Thank You



Warning: grown up content and language. I’m getting heavy with this one.
On December 14, 2012 in a town that essentially was a small town, a young man walked into an elementary school and shot 20 five-and six-year-old children and 6 teachers. That day, Lulu was in her first preschool in Richmond, Virginia, another small town. I’ll never forget the impact of that day. Ever.
My husband and I were signing the escrow papers on our first home that afternoon and rather than toast with champagne, we cried. We cried for the families waiting in the fire station to find out if their children would be delivered to them. We cried for the families who still stood there as we signed. The families who would never again see their children. Ever. Their precious treasures. The babies they made with their own flesh and blood or that they adopted with all their hearts. The ones they fought for. The little ones they spent every day working for, educating, loving, cuddling, reading to, teaching how to brush their teeth and tucking in at night. Those parents wouldn’t be tucking their children in that night. We were inconsolable and could not imagine their grief and anger.
Being a parent changes everything.
The world has changed, too. We’ve moved to another small town, only to have an acquaintance’s daughter assaulted on her own elementary school campus. To have our niece’s high school shut down for two days due to bomb threats. To have our almost-five-year-old daughter trained in emergency drills with a far different meaning than the earthquake drills that scared the bits out of me when I was a kid.
It’s teacher appreciation week. And, of course, we appreciate you guys for teaching our kids how to read. To pee in the right place. To get along with others. But, every day when I hand my precious child off to the teachers of her school, I silently thank them for keeping her safe. For loving her in my absence. For caring enough to frame the lockdown drills as standard safety protocol. Most of all, I thank them for being willing to put their bodies between my child and an assailant, the way those teachers did in Newtown, Connecticut that cold day in December. 
 How do I say thank you for that? 
There is no little teacher’s token big enough to express my gratitude and my emotional investment in these individuals, although I’m sure I’ll give them some such token anyway.
To Mia, Leslie, Jessie, Beth, Connie, Gigi, Erin, Lisa, Jody and Claudia and every person who works in the schools our daughter has attended, THANK YOU doesn’t say it. And, not to take away from the gravity of my sentiment here, but I sure wish cake said it. I could do cake!
I’m also thankful for all the teachers who don’t work with my child. My mom – an amazing 5th/6th grade teacher who changes lives every day. My cousin Erin who is a no-nonsense, super-sharp teacher with wings of awesomeness. My friend Ali who found her path almost by accident, but the teens she basically mentors are so fortunate that she did.
There are more of you than I can mention in a blog post.
I love and thank you all. 
xox always, 
A.

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