Dear Kindergarten Teacher,
When we met last week you asked me to describe my daughter in a few words and my mind went blank. What I should have said is “She’s like Tigger, but with hugs.” Instead I told you she’s “very touchy”, which you took to mean tactile orientated. I tried in stumbling words to explain how she wants to touch, and hug, every person she sees. I think you thought I meant she’s clingy, and likes to be close to me. Maybe I should have explained how I have to stop her from hugging strangers at the grocery store. I tried to tell you about how I’ve been working on getting her to stop touching the kids at her sister’s bus stop. Maybe I should have explained that by the end of the school year instead of running up to them and hugging them she would run up and ask them and then, often without waiting for an answer, hug them while they stood there looking stiff and uncomfortable.
I was searching through my mind for positive things to say but maybe instead I should have told you that she is a talented liar, that she has a horrible temper, that she is one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever met. And yes, as I often have to remind myself, it is true that being stubborn can be a good thing. But it’s less than fun when you are butting heads with her, let me tell you.
Maybe I should have told you that she’s my love bug. She loves everyone. Everyone. The strangers on the city bus, the people at the grocery store, our waitress at the restaurant, every person she meets. And if I try and explain that they might not feel quite the same way about her she’ll reply “They just don’t know me yet.” Maybe I should have said that if by the end of her first week, heck her first day, if she hasn’t told you earnestly that she loves you, there’s something wrong.
Maybe I should have mentioned that I never get to trim her finger nails because she always bites them off. Should I have told you that she still chews her hair, especially when she’s nervous? Should I have told you that even though she’s five she still chews on toys? That I constantly have to chide her to get things out of her mouth; fingers, hunks of hair, Lego bricks, Playmobile. Does that fall under “she’s very tactile”?
Maybe the word I should have used is exuberant. I probably should have told you how she never stops moving. Ever. How when I want to take her photo I aim at the blank space where I think she’ll soon be and wait for her to hop into frame. Perhaps I should have mentioned how even when we are snuggled up to read a book or watch TV she is constantly moving, fidgeting, sliding, climbing, pacing, pouncing. Maybe I should have told you that I simply can’t imagine her sitting still for circle time, and the idea of her ever staying put in a desk is laughable.
When you asked about her likes again my mind went blank. I mean I know what she likes, but which to focus on? what to say? I told you she likes building blocks. Perhaps I should have mentioned how she loves dinosaurs, and knows all their names, even the tricky ones I can only remember by reading off their plastic bellies. I probably should have told you about her fascination with gears, robots, and machines. I should have told you how she wants to know how everything works. Everything. And how she will take everything apart, if you’re not paying attention.
We talked about disciplinary measures. I mentioned time outs, but maybe instead I should have explained that what works best with her is explaining how her actions make other people feel. Maybe instead of tactile orientated I should have said she’s “feelings orientated”. Maybe I should have warned you that when I put her in a time out it’s usually less about discipline and more about giving her a chance to take a few deep breaths and calm down, because this child can boil up like a little volcano.
I’ve gone over all these scenarios in my head, and I’ve talked to my girl about what’s expected of her, but still in the end, I’m won’t be there in that classroom, and you will. So I’m trusting you to look out for her. I’m hoping you’ll try and help her to remember to give people the physical space they need, and that you’ll make sure she understands she can’t just lose her cool and club one of her classmates over the head with a Duplo brick.
Tigger, but with hugs. Seriously, that’s what I should have said. She’s like a force of nature, an unstoppable three foot tall tornado with this giant loving heart and a will of iron. She’s my daughter, my heart, and I’m handing her over to you and crossing my fingers and wishing you both good luck.
From Tigger’s Mom