This week Linda is attending her older daughter's graduation ceremony for her master's degree. Her school career has spanned 22 years and has taken her to five different countries. On the other side of the spectrum, my younger daughter is starting preschool in the fall. Between us, our children span the educational and parenting gamut.
I write this in Linda's absence. Doing so makes me wonder how I will feel sitting at my daughter's graduation years from now. It seems so far into the future - an impossible day down the road. I can't imagine her in a cap and gown when at the present time she dons a fairy skirt at every opportunity. However, I have been in this business long enough to know that time marches on, and in the blink of an eye my young child will be a young woman graduating.
There is so much to do before that day comes - so much I want to expose her to, so much I want her to see and experience so she can realize her potential and discover her place in this world. I know my father would remind me to take one day at a time, but this time of year tends to make the mind race ahead (at the same time I am sure it is full of memories racing back for Linda).
What I have come to believe is that my husband and I do not rear our daughters alone. We are lucky to have friends and family close by, but we also entrust a great deal of that responsibility to her teachers - first in preschool and someday her college professors. As I think about the journey that she begins in the fall, I hope those future teachers will allow me to voice the following requests:
When my daughter enters your class, help her, but just enough to build her confidence to try on her own. Challenge her, but do not change her. Expect her to give you her best and call her on it when she does not.
Require honesty in her friendships and her work. Recognize how important it is for her to think quietly, to laugh heartily or to explore independently. Please encourage her curiosity and her creativity. Relish the having of wonderful ideas with her.
Get in the dirt and play with her.
Present her with tough choices, so she will choose wisely when she must do so on her own. Introduce her to great thinkers and artists, so she can tap into her own genius. At times let her fail - it is not fatal; it will give her strength to pick herself up later on.
I am asking quite a lot I know, but the days will fly so quickly, and as parents we cannot do these things alone.
Parenting is an epic love story - with the grace of God, it is a long adventure spanning a lifetime or more. Over the years her teachers will come and go from her life. Each will make an impression and each will add a chapter to her story.
As my daughter turns 3, my heart is full of hope, anticipation and awe. I know that will be combined with pride when I sit on a folded chair some spring day in the future watching her graduate. On that day, I will think back to these days of skinned knees and fairy skirts, and to this article. I hope I will have made us both proud by giving her the opportunities to discover and follow her passion. I hope we will remember to stop and thank all those teachers who helped me guide this beautiful child on her journey.
Linda Krulock graduated from West Liberty State College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and early childhood. She teaches senior kindergarten at Wheeling Country Day School. Elizabeth Hofreuter-Landini is head of school at Wheeling Country Day. She is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard University Graduate School of Education.