“The Look”

As I rounded the curve of the car pool line yesterday and caught a glimpse of my little man, I immediately realized there was a problem.  My energetic guy was patiently waiting for me, holding his rolling book bag in one hand and the neck of his shirt in the other.  As I drove closer, I could easily determine the issue…my ten-year-old son was wearing his fourteen-year-old sister’s shirt.  Granted, it was a plain v-neck shirt, but it was obviously not made for my son’s size or his gender.  It was way too big.

As I slowed down to allow my son to get in the car, his teacher opened the door and gave me “the look”.  I have come to know this look very well during my parenting career…that judgment-free look that lets me know she has my back, even when I screw up.  I had already gotten “the look” earlier during the week when my son blamed his lack of lunch on the fact there was no food in our house (which was not entirely false, in my son’s defense!).  As the son of a slaughter and processing owner, one can only imagine the stories that my son shares with his fourth-grade classmates…and the number of times I get “the look” from this teacher as a result.

I have come to realize “the look” is actually a universal language between moms and teachers.  I was first introduced to it by my daughter’s preschool teacher when my daughter stubbornly refused to walk down the aisle during graduation because the cap and gown hid her pretty new dress.  I was further educated on “the look” when my daughter entered elementary school and  would sometimes arrive at school with a ball cap or zip ties holding her hair in place…the only way her dad knew how to tame her blonde curls.  Potty training my son resulted in him digging a hole in the corner of the playground , taking a poop, and then covering it with woodchips…I still remember that look very well!

I use to believe this look was one of judgment…that I was only one screw-up away from being reported as an unfit mother.  However, time and perspective have taught me that (for most teachers) this isn’t the case at all.  Teachers not only educate our children, but they also love them during our absence.  Teachers get to know our children…and they see their imperfections.  They know how strong-willed McKayla can be, so they really aren’t surprised when she firmly plants her feet and refuses to move when all eyes are on her.  They understand Caden’s impulsiveness and the struggle to get him to think through his choices…both when selecting a shirt and when selecting a bathroom location!  They realize our children have unique personalities and quirky behaviors that make each day an adventure.  “The look” is not one of judgment, but it is one of comradery…it is a look that says, “I understand your pain, because I struggle with this too…we are in it together”.

This is National Teacher’s Appreciation Week.  I actually was not home to oversee my son’s wardrobe selection yesterday because I was providing breakfast for the teachers and staff at my daughter’s high school (this was dad’s responsibility, but we won’t discuss that!).   Today I countered that effort by donating beef patties to be cooked for the teachers of my son’s school.  It was an honor to serve these amazing teachers who love my children…despite their imperfections.   I don’t always get to do such grand gestures to show my appreciation; however, I pray these teachers see it in my eyes every time we exchange “the look”.

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