With Heart: An Interview with Mom
I felt helpless. Miles away. And not for the usual geographical reasons. I live in Alaska. My mom’s a teacher in Los Angeles, CA. This was her first job since graduating with her degree and teacher’s certificate in 2019.
When lockdowns began, I couldn’t stop doomscrolling. I would call my mom frantic, asking, “Do you have a mask? Gloves? Hand sanitizer? You’re staying six feet away from everyone, right?” I lived in fear for her and my dad, but my parents would make jokes, “Yes, yes, AND EVEN toilet paper!”
The early childhood education center didn’t close in 2020. So, my mom continued teaching in-person. I don’t know how, but my mom always seemed to be okay. I’d be breaking down on the phone, but her voice was steady. Maybe she was keeping it together for the both of us?
Last week, I called my mom to find out, and she told me stories from her classroom and about her toddler-aged students.
Translated from Spanish (all translation errors are my own), she told me the following:
One girl made a cat out of construction paper. She’s very artistic, always making little creatures from paper. When she was distracted, another girl took the cat and hid it behind a tree. Nobody noticed what had happened! When the girl returned to paste on the cat’s legs and saw the rest of the cat missing, she started crying, “Where’s my cat? Where’s my cat?” We asked everyone to help look. Two girls walked up to me with the paper cat, one of them saying, “Sorry.” The girl who was making the cat accepted her apology, and then said, “I’m still angry, but tomorrow I’ll show you how to make a cat.”
There was another girl who was having problems in class. She would start confrontations with the other kids. She’d lay on the floor crying. It turns out her sister had died and she missed her a lot. How do you console a child six feet apart?
How do you say desesperación? Frustration, despair. I struggle. And that weighs on me.
I told my mom I would be sharing our conversation with the EE community. I asked her, "What do you want people to know?"
She answered, "Despite the pandemic and all the uncertainty, being with the kids and trying to help them as much as I can helps me. We help plant the root. We do this work with heart, for love of our students."