There has been a lot of talk around here this year of our youngest and our oldest. And yet somehow, in the midst of the chaos swirling around him, The Middle One kicked this year’s butt.
I don’t want to take anything away from this kid. He is quietly determined to be the best version of himself he can be while somehow not sweating the small stuff. For every argument we have or sassy remark he makes to me (and there are many) he has an equal number of polite, intelligent, leader moments with his school peers and teachers. He is a great kid and he may not think his dad and I notice, but boy do we talk about him a lot before bed every night, our conversations usually in the “man, aren’t we the luckiest to be that kid’s parents?” theme. So, let me be clear, he gets most of the credit for his incredible year.
But (and this is a giant but) I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge The Middle One’s teachers. They are, quite simply, magic. We’ve been through the 4th grade twice now and the first time around we quickly learned the power of “Mr. Magic and his teaching partner Miss Magic”. Every single night at dinner our oldest would start with “today Mr. Magic did…”. Every. Single. Night.
As annoying as you’d think that would get, we never minded because she always told the stories with an inner glow that can only come when one is inspired, in this case, from excellent teachers, so we let her go on, and on, and on…
Needless to say, this year we were looking forward to another great experience with Miss and Mr. Magic because we already knew how incredible it would be.
Or so we thought.
Something different happened this year. While The Girl experienced the wonder and joy of a classroom with enthusiastic and passionate teachers, The Middle One got something even more; he found his spirit.
My boy is a quiet fury. He’s dependable, honest, loyal and beautifully sensitive. I know everyone thinks these things about their kids but I have three of my own and this one’s different. He’s hardest on himself but also holds the world up to the same impossibly high expectations he tries to meet. As you might imagine, the world disappoints him often. Despite all these great qualities, he’s the quiet middle child sandwiched between a girl who never met a microphone she didn’t like and a sweet-faced, blue-eyed boy with a hugging problem. This sometimes means The Middle One goes unnoticed (by everyone but me, kid).
It would be understandable if Mr. & Miss Magic Teachers treated our boy like he was just the next King in line. The Middle One would have been used to that. But they did not. Instead, in addition to the rock operas and read alouds, the challenging math theorems and wax museum projects that will undoubtedly be indelibly etched on the kid’s brain, these teachers also took the time, from the first minute, to really SEE our boy and help him to share himself with the world.
They did not treat The Middle One like the next King in line. Instead Mr. & Miss Magic treated him like the remarkable young man that he is, giving him opportunities to shine in his own light, not one he has to share with his siblings. They asked great things of him, proving they thought he could handle the job. They recognized the leader we’ve always seen and they nudged (and sometimes pushed) him into that role. They communicated with him the reasons for their high expectations and they made it very clear they were sure he could grow into the person they were telling him they saw him be.
The result? My boy, who has spent every year of school managing a new nervous tic, spent all year confident and calm. He loved every minute in his fourth grade class, even the uncomfortable challenging ones. He has smiled more than I’ve ever seen (except maybe when he was two and having all the fun). He is unafraid on stage, whether it is reciting or singing, he commands the mic like his sister came out of the womb doing.
He is still loyal and dependable and so, so very kind. He is intelligent and independent and will make a great leader someday. What I am grateful to his teachers for is that now, he knows it too.
There is magic in a classroom with great teachers at the helm. My kids are living proof.
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There is nothing so wonderful for a child as a great teacher. When my kids had one they bloomed and blossomed.