Yesterday, I made my husband read without his glasses. Which means he could barely see. But my mouth was stuffed with rice cake. I couldn’t read to him and it was paramount that he read my email RIGHT THEN.
Because I’d never received anything like it. And I had to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I mean, it was before 6AM. There was always the chance that sleep deprivation and a lack of coffee were mixing it up to do interesting things in my brain.
So, I held my laptop up to my husband’s face. I methodically chewed my rice cake and berated myself for not taking a smaller bite. Then, he hugged me.
And I knew I wasn’t imagining things.
I had actually received an email from a parent written for the sole purpose of thanking me.
In fact, it was titled “Thank you,” which had made me suspicious. I debated whether I should wait until I got to work to open it, just in case it was some kind of spammy virus. My first thoughts were literally an internal debate as to what this email could be. And the possibility that is was a legitimate thank you note never even crossed my mind.
See, this is the first time I’ve received this sort of thing. I’ve always hoped that I might one day run into a former student and they’d tell me that I helped them at least decrease their hatred for literature or verb conjugations, but having a mom find my email address and get in touch while I’m still teaching her kids? That wasn’t even a dream.
Which is a bit sad, really. In my four years of full-time teaching, this is the first time a parent has acknowledged that I’m having a positive impact on her kids. I’ve had met parents at parent-teacher interviews who tell me that their kids like my class, sure, but this was different. This wasn’t about academics. This was about my work – of which reading and writing are only one aspect.
She told me that I’m encouraging her kids to pursue careers that they’re passionate about, and to embrace their intelligence – that I was showing them that you can be “cool” and smart, too. She told me that her kids were learning without even realizing it. She thanked me for my kindness and understanding. She told me that I had touched her kids’ lives
And she thanked me from “a family who is lucky to have you work with their children.”
So, I choked down my rice cake. I hugged my husband. And I wiped my eyes.
Because the few minutes it took this mom to write me an email made my entire year. Or career.
Who knows if I’ll ever get something like that again.
But I’ll be printing it out, and I’ll be reading it often. Because on those days where it feels like I’m not doing any good – like I’m not getting through to anyone – I can read this email.
And I can know I’m wrong.