The candles, chocolate and coffee mugs for Christmas are all wonderful, but let me be real for the three minutes it will take you to read this letter. They are not what I want as a teacher. I don’t want anything that money can buy. I want something that is, however, extraordinarily expensive. I want time. Not for me, but for your child.
This time of year is hard on children. It does not matter whether my student comes from the most affluent family on the block or the homeless family secretly living out of a car. They all need one thing that you can provide them. That is your time, your attention. In the classroom, I often see the most challenging behavior between Thanksgiving and Christmas break because we are all so busy right now.
Let me illuminate you, since it is the season of light. If you are stressed out over money, or how you are going to get all of your baking completed, or how you are going to make sure you see all the relatives that require your attention during the holiday season, then your child is stressed as well.
So, here is my advice … STOP.
STOP spending three days planning and creating the perfect handmade gift for the teacher. Instead, let your child complete a craft with you while you focus on talking and interacting positively about what this season means to you.
STOP baking enough cookies, brownies and cakes for an entire army of teachers. Instead, bake one batch with your child and intentionally teach them about measurement. That one cookie that I know your child baked with you is worth the entire universe to me.
STOP all the madness that surrounds us right now. Turn off the TV, their iPad and your phone, and just read a book with your child. That, more than anything else, is time well-spent.
Time is the most important commodity for all of us right now. Parents have to work and maintain this holiday cheer that everyone is supposed to be feeling. The happiness though is being lost in the “doing” of the season.
A student recently shared with me a story she wrote about Christmas. It broke my heart. In her story, a child has nothing to talk about with her classmates about when the subject turns to Christmas because her mom always has to work. In the story, the Christmas miracle is her mom gets the day off. She wrote, “The next day they went shopping for Christmas things, and when Christmas came they had the best Christmas ever.”
This child gets it. She just wants time with her mother to celebrate this season. Her wish is the same as most of the children I’ve had the privilege to teach. They want your time and attention. I want this for them too. If that means I don’t receive anything at all, then I am okay with that. Really. My joy, my wealth and my gift comes from the knowledge that my students had time with the most important people in their lives, you!
Much love and many blessings,