The Truth of Who I Am

"Only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free." -Eckhart Tolle

The Last Day of ‘Cool

on May 26, 2013

It’s been a really busy three weeks and as much as I promised myself I would keep writing through it all, I broke my promise. I need to work on this. I have got to keep my promises to myself better.

Kaya, my daughter, has been repeating the statement that, “Today is the last day of ‘cool. Today is my last day of ‘cool foreber.” She means “school” not her general popularity or ability to maintain her dignity no matter what kind of fall she takes. This time of year brings about many “lasts” and I have always been one to notice and feel them. I believe in feeling sadness and other feelings wholeheartedly and without trying to water them down with “but just think about how great it’s going to be when…” or “…you should look forward to….”, etc. I let myself and my children sit in their sadness over goodbyes. I’ve had a lot of experience in this area so I know something about it.  Kaya’s last day of preschool was on Monday and David’s last day of first grade was on Friday. It’s more bitter than sweet.

Both my kids have been so lucky to have been with truly amazing teachers this past year. I don’t know how to find the words to express the deep, deep gratitude I feel for having had my children go to school and be in the care of people who genuinely like them and care about their overall well-being. It’s all I truly hope for each year when I drive my kids to school and leave them with another person. True – I teach teachers. I teach them many great ways of being teachers. I get them thinking about important things like social justice and equity and being change agents of a system that does not offer everyone equal opportunities. I teach them to be aware of many isms such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism and linguicism. Then I teach them about culturally responsive and critical pedagogy and problem-posing education. These are certainly important and so necessary in our world today. I love this work I do and am very passionate about it.

But then…I drive my kids to school and leave them in the care of their teachers and the most important thing to me becomes their overall happiness and well-being at school. I want them to have good days. I want them to have fun. I want them to play. I want them to find joy in their life. I want them to love – their teacher, a story, creating, the world, a friend, a game, writing, art, fairness, a song. And I want them to be loved back. These are important things to me. So it was a hard last day for me when I picked Kaya up from her preschool. Here’s what I wish I could have said to her teachers but choked on the words as I watched her hug them goodbye through my tears.

Dear Miss Kiah & Miss Mo,

Thank you for loving my daughter, Kaya, during her preschool years. It meant so much to me each time I saw you wrap your arms around my little girl in the mornings and I knew you were genuinely happy to see her. She is so lucky to have been with you. You said this morning, Kiah, that she was one of the kids that taught you how to be a teacher because you’ve been with her for three years. What a beautiful thing to say! What a beautiful thing to say that she taught you how to be a teacher. It’s really something that you could see it this way. Because you and Mo taught her so much in the short time she was with you. You taught her to care for her friends and also to care for critters. You taught her to be curious and kind and generous. You taught her little bits of who she is. You taught her how to throw a basketball and how to help a friend who is hurt. You taught her that she is important. You taught her that she is lovable and fun and creative. You taught her that she is tough. You taught her how to get dirty in the mud and sand and then how to clean up. You taught her how to see her world – really see her world in ways that many of us miss in our everyday busy lives. You taught her how to slow down and take peace breaths when she needed to – she taught me how to take those and I take many these days. You are both teachers at heart and it is beautiful that you see your students as your teachers. I loved hearing stories about what Miss Kiah and Miss Mo said and I could always count on you to say things with love no matter how hard some moments may have been for you.

Thank you for being her teachers. And thank you for always, always being so patient and gentle with me as I learned how to be a parent of school-age kids. I appreciated your kindness and patience more than you will know. You were always, consistently, reliably calm and happy each day I brought my little girl to you – no matter how frazzled, tired, unprepared or late we were. It meant a lot to this mama.

My hope for you is that all the love you have poured into your little students will surround you wherever you go in your life. While showing up everyday and dealing with all kinds of noises and bad moods and snotty noses and spills and tattling and willfulness and preschool tears may not seem so glamorous on a day-to-day basis, it is indeed glamorous to those of us who bring our little ones to you everyday and leave them with a heart that beats calmly and a mind that rests easy because we know that they are safe and loved by you. You are rock stars in our world. I am one of your biggest fans.

Thank you for loving my daughter for these very important years of her life and for teaching her lessons that will stay with her the rest of her life.

With love and gratitude,


(Kaya’s mom)

Miss Kiah & Kaya (so much love)

Miss Kiah & Kaya (so much love)


Miss Mo & Kaya (post tearful goodbye)

Miss Mo & Kaya (post tearful goodbye)

And here’s what I wish I could have said to David’s teacher after my conference with him over his First Grade Portfolio.

Dear Ms. Deaton,

Teachers like you give me hope in the work I do. You exemplify all the things in the books about good teachers. If I could, I’d bring in my university students daily to watch you and learn. You have created an amazing community of learners and I have been so thrilled to see all the big ideas we talk about put into action. But today, I want to thank you for what you’ve done for my son.

Thank you for nurturing David’s curiosity about the world. Somehow you found a way to learn about his interests and then ran with it. You asked him questions but you also encouraged him to ask lots of questions. And instead of giving him answers, you showed him how to find the answers for himself. You taught him that he could seek out answers for himself. I love that he wrote down his questions and was so proud to have sought the answers to write them down. You showed him his power to be a part of the world he lives in. 

And thank you for teaching him how to read! Reading opened up a whole new world for David! And it wasn’t just that you taught him to read words, you taught him to read the world. This has been one of my greatest joys this year to experience his love for reading and I will be forever grateful to you for teaching him to love reading. 

Thank you for giving him the opportunity to experience being part of a community that encourages and supports and cheers for the successes of everyone in the group. Thank you for giving him the gift of feeling essential to a community. In the world we live in today, it’s so hard to find this kind of space in the world. Because David has experienced it, he will seek it out for himself and strive to create it wherever he goes. 

Thank you for the peace of mind I had every day I sent him to school because I knew that he was in the care of someone who cared about his spirit. It meant so much to me to know this. It was a joy to have you be a part of David’s life and learning in this world. We were honored, and some may say highly favored, to have you as David’s First Grade teacher. Thank you for an amazing year!

With love and gratitude,

Rhina (David’s mom)


One response to “The Last Day of ‘Cool

  1. I remember how special these moments were as a teacher – to share this love and time with children. THAT was a gift. Having parents who celebrated education like you are doing too was simply the best. It’s so ‘cool.

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