Whitney Grady: A tribute to teachers, coaches and community members
It’s been thirteen years since my husband and I first joined the ranks of parents. We’ve learned parenting as it has happened; sometimes going on instinct, other times guessing our way through it. Sometimes we’ve tried to follow the rules of child-rearing books.
We’ve heeded the advice of experts in the field in articles we have read. We’ve soaked in tips from friends and relatives at the grocery store and in the local parks and over the phone. Sometimes we’ve felt like we were “acing” this parenting thing, other times we’ve felt inept.
Early on, we realized that our kids were resilient and were growing up just fine thank you, even if we weren’t confident we were perfect parents. How could that be? We quickly learned that we weren’t the only ones raising our kids.
One fact about parenting has become clear through the years: our children aren’t always ours. There are times when we must trust them in the care of babysitters, nurses, doctors, and teachers. There are times when we must trust them in the care of coaches, scout leaders, dance instructors, and church leaders.
There are times when we must trust them in the care of camp counselors and lifeguards. We realized that if we put our children in the care of good people, they would get what they needed and thrive.
And so we try to let the coaches and teachers and mentors know just how much we appreciate them as often as possible. “Thank you” isn’t always enough. If I had enough time, I would slow down and write letters to these people to truly explain how they’ve impacted our children. To my son’s rec football coach who pushed my son when he needed pushing, challenged him and taught him to find the strength within himself.
To the coach, maybe it was just another drill, just another practice. To my son, it was the first life lesson in tapping into pure, raw grit. It was the birth of determination that will get him through tough spots in life, on and off the field. To my daughter’s tap dance teacher who suggested she practice at home on a piece of plywood.
To that teacher, maybe it was just a suggestion. To my daughter, it was the invitation to bring dance into her life in a way that she could harness her passion anytime, anyplace. It was a nudge to be self-reliant and to work towards goals no matter what the resources.
For my daughter, it was the conception of ingenuity. To the rector at our church, who calls my children by name – do you know you bring them closer to God? To the teachers whose patience stretches for my children as they give them a second chance or more time or a smile – do you know you are building their confidence to try harder? To the leaders, mentors, babysitters – do you know you’ve raised them too?
I wish I could write a letter to each person who has impacted our children’s lives to let them know: even when you don’t see it – the moment, the impact, no matter how small, we do.