I have a daughter who is, as I write this, enrolled in a preschool program in my hometown. She recently got promoted within it, moving up from one class to another (insofar as a preschool has classes–but I may well be ungenerous in making such an aside), starting with a new teacher after having many good months with one whom my wife and I respect and whom my daughter flatly loves. But it wasn’t until we got her home on her last day in the old class that she realized she’d not be with that teacher anymore; she cried, and I nearly did so alongside her. Even as I write this, I feel myself tearing up as I think about her doing so–and I’m not given to weeping.
I have confidence in the teacher with whom my daughter is now enrolled, but I have great respect for the one who worked with her these past months; my daughter has grown much under her tutelage, and I am pleased to see it happen. Her sadness at leaving makes sense to me–I have felt similar things in the past–and I have worked to help her be happy again, to look forward with hope and anticipation to new challenges and experiences. How well it has worked, though, I do not know, for I know that my daughter sees much in me that I would not reveal, and I know that I find it a bit strange to have such feelings about teachers as my daughter seems to have had about the one she recently left.
Altogether, I spent 24 years enrolled in formal schooling, and I’ve worked partly or mainly in education since 2006. Much of my life has been spent in the classroom, and many or most of my memories concern it. There are some instructors I remember fondly, certainly, although I am not in contact with them as much as I perhaps ought to be; there are more, though, on whom I look back with much less joy. In neither case do I recall being particularly sad about moving on from one to another, although I will admit that my memory for such things is not as good as it is for other things entirely, nor have I looked back over the journals I have tried to keep for notes about it. To see my daughter emote about such, then, seems a strange thing to me.
In all honesty, she often presents me with strangeness. She looks on the same world I do, but her view of it is unlike mine. There is enough similarity of perspective that she can communicate it to me, of course; she is my daughter, and I work to be active in her life, and we partake of some of the same loves. But there is much that is different, too, and not only in those parts of her that come from her mother; every day, it seems, she shows us something for which we had not thought or known to look and which we realize upon the seeing that we had needed. Perhaps I needed to see such joy reflected by her tears and to feel my own well up alongside them, an offering poured out to mourn I know not what.