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Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Letter to Jamie's Mom

Dear Catherine-
I know that you don’t know me, but I know you.
I know that yesterday was your birthday.
I know that you turned 34.
I know that you have worked full time since you were sixteen and even today, you work long hours at two different jobs to support your family.
I know that those jobs are not jobs you enjoy or love because you didn’t graduate high school.
I know that you got pregnant at age 17 and your parents did not offer their support to you any longer after that announcement.
I know what you named your baby and how you raised him in a small trailer, making it a family rule that ‘everybody reads after dinner’ which birthed a love for words in him.
I know that manners and respect are very important to you and you teach them in your household passionately.
I know that one year, because you couldn’t afford a vacation, you set up a tent in your backyard and made it a camping adventure where your son got to cook marshmallows over a fire and tell scary stories in a lawn chair while his feet swung nowhere near the ground.
I know all of this, you see, because I know your son. You are ingrained within him, so deeply immersed that your souls are woven like a thick braid. Though fiercely protective of you, he has allowed me to know pieces of you, unintentionally, through his written words and stories.
His love for you is glaring and pure, and even in the silly stories he tells, (“I once jumped off the roof of our trailer on a dare and my mom was so heated, she grounded me for two weeks!”) he affirms how present and guiding you have been to him.
You see, I am your son’s teacher.
I have never met you because you cannot afford time off work to come to conferences. You do not have a computer at home to email me. Unless your son is bleeding or in big trouble, you do not have time to talk to me about a missing assignment. You are too busy worrying about last month’s missing car payment.
I want you to hear me: It’s okay.
I’ve got him.
I love him too and I won’t let him slip.
You are doing the best you can and your son’s polite disposition and smiling face tells me that you’re doing a pretty fantastic job.
I know you must feel guilty sometimes about not being able to volunteer for field trips or help him with his narrative assignment because you have neither the time, resources or possibly even the academic capacity to do so.
That’s okay. That is my job.
What you clearly DO have time for, is his emotional stability and love.
He is smart.
He is funny.
He is kind.
And that’s ALL YOU.
Let me handle the assignment. You’re handling a much bigger one –making him into a man the rest of this world will want to know.
Thank you for all you do. We’ve got this.

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