A thank you note to all teachers

Black and white photo of three small children sitting around a mother with her head down on a table

By Maureen Boesen


Dear Teachers, I’ve got a few questions for you.

I’ve been doing your job for about two weeks now and I’ve got a few questions I need to ask.

No, the first question is not, “How you do this every day?” When I was involuntarily ripped out of my nice, quiet desk job and thrust into the demanding life of a work from home/homeschool teacher, I quickly learned there is simply no answer for how you do this every day. In fact, the only explanation I can come up with is that you are angels sent from heaven to selflessly shape our little one’s minds. To say you are a gift to the world is an understatement.

I will never truly understand how you do this every single day. But, perhaps, you can help me understand some of the logistics.

You see this is all a foreign subject to me, the working mom of three who may have sick Excel skills and can run a PowerPoint in her sleep but is not mentally strong enough to spend nine straight hours with children who can’t put their shoes on without crying. I didn’t sign up for this, I wasn’t cut out for this, I simply can’t do this. So, please, teacher who I’ve never thanked nearly enough and will forever bring end of the year gifts to, riddle me this…

What do you do when you’re sick? If you have a headache? If you had one too many glasses of wine the night before? I’m afraid the answer is power through and not turn on cartoons until Mama’s Excedrin kicks in. Please confirm.

When do you pee? This is a real question. Do you hold it all day? That can’t be good. Are you extremely dehydrated? No, I’ve seen those big jugs of water you carry around. Do you tell the students you’ll be back in a jiffy while they sit quietly and work? I tried this. Chaos. Mass chaos broke loose. Why did I take this for granted at my desk job? I didn’t have to schedule my pee breaks. I didn’t have to hold it. I didn’t worry about if I would make it. Bathroom breaks are now a luxury and a rare one at that.

Do you yell back at the kids when they yell at you? I sure hope not but, God, I wouldn’t judge you if you did. These kids are ruthless! They just don’t stop. Until you get them outside, of course. Then they are bored. Help me understand, please. Where do you go to cry? I assume you cry. I’ve cried countless times and I’ve only been doing this for two weeks. I have a bathroom to go to. I’ve got a closet to hide in. But you don’t. Do you let them see you cry? I bet it scares the crap out of them when you do. At least it scared my kids when I burst into tears over common core addition. Who changed math and why!? I need to know.

When do you reply to all your text messages and phone calls? I don’t know what the rules are at school about being on your phone. I’ve never seen you on your phone so I’m going to assume your screen time per day isn’t 8 hours and 51 minutes, like mine. I have the luxury of chatting with friends, FaceTiming with family, and responding to emails but I get the feeling you don’t. When you finally get on your phone at 3:30pm are you bombarded with 97 text messages, 57 GroupMe messages and 132 emails? I’m guessing that’s about the time your phone starts to ring from disgruntled parents. That will never be me again, I promise.

These schedules you speak of, do you actually stick to them? I’m trying, I’m really trying. But, the kids, they just don’t care. The want to do things like eat snacks, play and throw temper tantrums for hours on end. Why don’t they care that math started 20 minutes ago and isn’t scheduled to end until they turn 23? Speaking of snacks, you let them eat all day long right? Because they sure act like that’s how it is at school. I truly had no idea kids couldn’t read without a bowl of popcorn in their lap. Honest mistake on my part. “Mom, I’m hungry. Mom, when’s lunch? Mom, can I have a snack? Mom, is that wine? Mom, when’s dinner? Mom. Mom! Mom? MOM.” Please tell me they don’t treat you like this. Where do you lie down? I’ve never seen a couch in your classroom. But I know your feet and back hurt from bending over to help kids all day. Maybe you just snuggle up next to the kids during naptime and share their blankie? I would. Do you ever want to quit? Because I do, every single day. This job is hard—physically, mentally, emotionally—it’s so damn hard. It taxes the strongest of teachers. It challenges the best of parents. And it makes sitting at my desk, listening to Karen complain about how her orchid won’t bloom seem like a vacation. I’ve learned a lot over the last two weeks of teaching my kiddos. I’ve learned they like to draw pictures of their classmates. I’ve learned my first grader likes to read to his little brother. I’ve learned science is their favorite subject, followed by art and recess, of course. I’ve learned my preschooler has the voice of an angel and my first grader wants to study planets when he grows up. I’ve also learned they are relying on me to get through the day as much as I am relying on them. Most importantly, I’ve learned why you do this. I’ve learned why you get up every morning, commit your entire day to other people’s children, and selflessly give all your energy to students (and parents) who rarely say thank you. This job, the one I so desperately dreaded when my boss said “You really have to work from home now,” it is beautiful. It’s exhausting but, God, is it rewarding. It is moving the world forward in ways that we don’t even fully understand yet. So, thank you, teachers. Thank you for taking my littlest creations and turning them into the intelligent, strong, beautiful individuals they will grow up to be. Thank you for caring for my babies like they are your own. Thank you for creating a better and brighter future for all of us. And, lastly, do you take whip on your latte, because I promise the next one is on me.

Maureen Boesen is a guest writer for the Huffington Post, TODAY Parenting, Motherly and she was recently a guest on the TODAY show. She is a mother of three, runner and previvor. You can connect with her on Facebook and her blog.

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