Dearest ‘You Know Who You Are’,
This isn’t an attempt to correct a wrong, although it should have been corrected long ago. This isn’t a ploy to get you in trouble, as I am not even going to use your name; but you will know who you are. You are the teacher who encouraged my child. You called her into your office and took time out of your day to explain to her all the ways in which…she did NOT belong in your class. She came home deflated and bewildered. She had worked so hard since the fifth grade to hone her budding skills. She has talent in your area of expertise. I do not just say this as a mother, but I know this as a former professional in your field and as someone who sees the awe in people’s eyes when she uses her talent for fun and in an almost natural way as if she were breathing. She takes others breaths away; of that I have no doubt; and yet you chose to squash this little light in her. At a time when it was the only light she had.
She felt it was because your own children, who happen to also be in your class, are not particularly fond of her. She marches to her own drummer; she stands up for herself and she does not bend to the ‘politics’ and false friendships of high school to get ahead, as I wish I was brave enough to have done when I was in school. She is genuine. She is honest and she can be a little too outspoken, and you did not want to deal with her challenges. Her defense and self-preservation lies in her toughness. But if you truly cared about your charges you would have seen this. You could have been her hero; instead you were her villain. Crushing the very essence that made her special and unique. You made her question her dream. And now this dream has died along with the hope she had for a future in your profession. Because you told her she did not belong. Her daily challenges included a recent divorce, her mother’s multiple hospitalizations for physical and emotional illnesses, her own questioning of where she belonged. She could have belonged under your wing, instead you pushed her away.
This is an open letter and I realize you may never read it. It matters not if you do. Because I hope all instructors of special and elective classes get wind of this story. The story of the lost and broken child who feels she has found her niche in this world. She may be strong willed and headstrong; but know this may hide something deeper. A will to be told she CAN do something well; a challenge for YOU to see this in her. When her voice used in class was small and quiet but loud and strong in the world, this should have been a clue to you that her self-worth was in question to her. The very instrument in which her talent lie was unsure. That instrument to be silenced by the very one who was to tune and amplify; now is free of this headache you saw as my daughter. Where to me she is the world. Teachers do not know the power they hold in their very hands, in their tuning forks and directors wands. You might as well be magic. And not just for those who easily adjust; who blindly are lead…but for those who need you for different reasons. They need you to help them believe they, too, are worthwhile. Why did you turn her away? I wish I had been strong enough to stand up for her then, but I wasn’t. You failed her greatly. WE failed her.
Now she tears up as she sees her friends go out into the world with the talent you have deemed them good enough to feature. Pictures of competitions and proud moments of performance and awards. Moments my daughter was denied. You let her down. I wonder how many others have suffered the same. This is high school and not Westminster College of Music, where her great Aunts attended school, one eventually leading the very class you teach at your level. This is not a performance for the president as her father and mother were lucky enough to experience. What gives you the right to tell her she is not good enough to have these opportunities?
I lost my ability to stand up and fight for her, as I now fight for others and I will always regret this. I would have loved to march into your office and ask you why you chose to bully and belittle my child without giving me so much as a phone call to let me know the hammer would soon befall her head. You did not give me the chance to soften this blow. You did not give me a chance to explain her challenges, to partner with you on a solution; to know if there was a good reason for you to turn her away. To this day, I know not why you told her she should not continue in your class.
So she cries silent tears and has given up on her God given talent, much to my severe disdain. I hear her quietly whisper her gifts in the car and in her room and the hair stands up on my entire body at the gift God has given her. The gift she is convinced does not exist. But she still has a love for this deep inside of her that you did not kill completely. I pray she finds her way back to it again someday…
I hope you have not killed this in her completely.
The Mother who’s Child You Discouraged