Lucky Me

Lucky Me

 

Written by – Anne Martine Cook

                           

I am a nursery school teacher and I love my job. I have been doing this for almost 45 years, and each year, I have loved getting to know the children and their parents in a deep way. We all form a wonderful and invigorating community.

Now we have the Coronavirus pandemic, and I am away from my class. We do have Zoom sessions, and phone calls, but distance learning for early childhood education lacks the strong connection between a teacher and her children. For this young age, and for me, the physical connection is so important.

Because I love the class and can’t connect in person, this time away is both a definite form of agony and one that is heart-filling. I miss the children and ache for the time I had with them. Vivid images of our sunny classroom, with empty, crayon-less wooden tables, a soundless dress-up area, unused shelves of puzzles and toys and the childless easel fill my mind and heart several times a day.

I am lucky. I feel fine. I have food in my refrigerator and cabinets. I can get take-out. My kind son lives minutes away; dear friends are nearby, who are also social distancing. We can meet for walks and make dinners and talk. We feel our vast fortune. When these happy gatherings are over, as grateful as I am, nourished in every way, my thoughts always go back to the children. Each one is a rare soul, a friend and a tiny teacher.  

I had a dream last night that there I was at the art and writing table, with a few of them next to me. It was as real as real can be. I was showing a little girl how to draw a bird. Another girl said, “I remember how you taught me so I start with the beak first.” My hand was on her hand in my dream. It was beautiful and has been a tender companion in my mind all day.

To have something I have loved to do for so long, year after year, is a huge, soul satisfying present that I receive every day.

Distance learning is just that. The effort is genuine and yet the process and method feel millions of miles away from the way I actually teach. Finding books and videos which I know the children will love, making videos for them, thinking of interesting activities, all bring me close to the class, but in fleeting ways. I still love feeling any sort of connection to the children. Zoom visits are really fun and seeing the children in their houses with their cute young parents is wonderful. When the meetings are finished, I miss the children very much.

We may become used to some aspects of this very unfamiliar, strained time, but this interruption in our lives will be hard to ever forget. Suddenly not having freedom when we have only known it is startlingly oppressive. We read, hear and know we will be stronger for having lived through this. Fun will return and lovely choices will be part of our days again. Maybe we will take less for granted and value one another more deeply. Pettiness might be replaced by true understanding.  

Hanging on to these bright thoughts helps me. I can almost hear the children’s dear voices and the beautiful bustle only they can create. Thank you, dear children. Lucky me.

Anne Martine Cook has 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.

6 Comments
  • Anonymous
    Posted at 19:41h, 01 May

    Anne, YOU always brighten my day!
    – Karen Grund

  • Nancy Better
    Posted at 19:43h, 01 May

    Thank you for this beautiful piece of writing! Our three “young adult” kids are all home, and we have been reminiscing about growing up in Greenwich.. Chief among their earliest memories is the time all of them spent in Anne & Joyce’s classroom. They remember blasting music during clean-up time, and the many special rituals and traditions that made Connecting the most amazing preschool experience, We send our love to you and Remy and hope you stay healthy and safe! xoxoxo Better Family

  • Rozsa Gaston
    Posted at 19:57h, 01 May

    Anne – You were one of my son’s most important teachers. Your fan forever, Rozsa Gaston, Btonxville, NY

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 21:18h, 01 May

    This column reminds us of what makes Anne a special teacher. She loves her children and their parents, and thrives on her contacts with them. .Every year! She adores the connection. Decades of children and parents remember her class with love and wonder. Sad that connection has been so interrupted recently. But if anyone can maintain the relationships, Anne will. Born to be a nursery school teacher!

  • Susan K Sabini
    Posted at 07:01h, 02 May

    Thank you Anne for expressing so well how preschool teachers feel during this time in our lives. Your words are heartfelt and honest and your grateful attitude is inspiring to us all.

  • Carolyn Tarpey
    Posted at 11:33h, 03 May

    Hi Anne,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful and heartfelt post… it made me cry. The amazing memories I have of your classroom for all my past charges ( including our dear Remy ), is forever sketched in all of our hearts. Nothing will ever compare to being in your classroom all together. Thank goodness we have zoom ( better then nothing ) but it is just a temporary solution. We all need social interaction and the loss now is felt across the board. You expressed our feelings so perfectly as always.
    Love you Anne!

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