Ode to the Infant Teacher
When New Girl goes to the center each day, we call it “school.” When she runs to her teachers, we call them, well, her teachers. I’ve noticed that some people, friends, sisters-in-law, my mom, either roll their eyes thinking we’re inflating this experience, or laugh with a little “oh, how cute” to use those terms to describe what they think of as “day care” and “baby sitters.” But more and more every day, their brush off of New Girl’s teachers as somehow something less than a first-grade math teacher, or high school English teacher, or college professor, makes me angrier and angrier. In fact, these women are so much more.
I see the grace with which they teach these infants to learn. They teach babies to learn how to comfort themselves to sleep; they teach even the most stubborn 1-year-old to learn to use a cup; they teach them to learn to eat at the table, to figure out a new toy, to overcome frustration, to be proud of their accomplishments. They teach them that they can be loved unconditionally by people in addition to mommy and daddy. I want to say to the non-believers out there, “You try teaching someone who can’t talk, can’t walk, and can’t understand your language how to be a loving, gentle soul, and that the world is safe as long as you are there by his side. Teach someone who cannot hold a paintbrush how to make masterful works of art. Teach someone with no teeth how to enjoy the fruits of the earth. Teach someone who cannot support herself how to literally stand proud on her own. And then, teach them how to talk, walk, and understand your language. And do it all in just a few months.” New Girl’s teachers are the most miraculous people I know. They are amazing, wonderful teachers. And I haven’t even started on what they’ve taught me, but that’s a blog — or a tome — for another day.