An ode to preschool teachers. You are parenting geniuses.
We’re off to kindergarten, but we’ll never forget your lessons.
By Jodie Fishman, Chief Content Officer, Bright by Text
I’ll never forget my very first back-to-school night. A room full of fidgety, mostly first-time parents perched ourselves precariously on pint-sized chairs, our knees banging into tiny tables while two smiley teachers taught us the ropes.
“Don’t pack too much in their lunchboxes,” one of them was warning. Pause. Smile. “Really, if you’re sending grapes, pack about 6. They won’t eat more than that—trust me.” More smiles.
My first baby was entering her preschool years—and that night, it felt daunting.
She must have felt it, too. When I brought her back to that classroom the next day, she sobbed. Confession: so did I.
Today, 2 more kids and 8 years later, I dropped my youngest off at that same preschool for the last time. He opened the car door and bolted out, nonchalantly calling his goodbyes over his shoulder as he ran into the place that has been our family’s home for the formative early childhood years.
He was all grins. I tried to hold back my tears.
We don’t own a stroller anymore, or a pack and play, high chair or crib. We don’t pause for nap times. Communal bath time has been replaced by independent kids taking showers by themselves (thank goodness for that one). No one whispers to herself “good girl, good girl” if she gets her foot all the way into her shoe by herself. No one says “no thank you, please” in a confused mishmash of polite words.
The rearview mirrors of our minivan are so full—of proud, cringeworthy and soul-satisfying little kid moments—that I’m desperately trying to freeze and categorize the memories for safekeeping.
And my parenting toolbox is packed, thanks to a team of the most kind-hearted, patient child-whisperers around: preschool staff.
Your one-liners are child-raising gold—so good they must be screamed from the rooftops, or at least shared in umm…a parenting blog. Here are my top 3 favorites—the ones I’ve picked up and started using at home, that will remain with my family into middle childhood and beyond.
1. Put on your patient pants. When we’re waiting in a long line, I’ll pull pretend “patient pants” out of thin air and ask my kids to put them on, as I pantomime pulling on my own. This always makes them laugh—or at least roll their eyes—and serves as a silly reminder that we can’t control everything, but we can control our attitude. Replace the word “patient” with any relevant adjective: brave, helpful, kind. Will I still be asking my kids to put on their patient pants when they’re in high school? I hope so.
2. Don’t “yuck” someone else’s “yums.” Have one kid that likes bananas and another that hates them? Of course you do. This line is for you. I can’t count the number of times my kids have uttered this at the dinner table, recognizing that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Though this one clearly came about at mealtime—it applies to so much more than food.
3. Find friends who make your heart happy. This might be my favorite advice ever. There’s no doubt my kids’ teachers encouraged them to take turns, share, and get along—that’s the bread and butter of preschool. But when it comes to finding your people, this is the best criteria I’ve heard. I’ve repeated this phrase to my kids throughout preschool and elementary school—and even said it to myself.
And while my heart is sad to let go of this phase, it’s also incredibly happy. In preschool, I’ve made unforgettable friendships with other parents, teachers, and staff—and discovered the amazing people my little ones are on their way to becoming.
Thank you, teachers! For teaching me not to waste food when I pack lunches.
And for the patience, the lessons, the love, and the imprint you've had on my kids—and on me.
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