I stood in the corner of the classroom unnoticed. The children were all standing facing a board, acting out the words of their rhyme accordingly. They jumped when the word was j-u-m-p. They clapped when the word was c-l-a-p. Then the teacher noticed me through the corner of her eye. I waved. A few curious students turned around to see who she was waving at as they finished up the last verse.
The teacher then announced, "Today, we are having a mystery reader" and instructed them to all sit facing the comfy chair in the corner.
My daughter, noticeably the only black child in the classroom, immediately said, "My mommy REALLY wants to be a guest reader one day!" She still had no idea I was even present.
And then the teacher introduced me !!!
As much as I was completely fulfilled with this priceless moment, I am cognizant that there were several reasons this trip to her classroom today was important. Having recently relocated to this overwhelmingly predominantly white neighborhood, I did not want my daughter to feel completely disconnected. Although she is quite adaptable and resilient, I did not want her to feel that her mother abandoned her without representation. I did not want to reinforce already misinformed stereotypes about Black people not being involved in their children's education. Plus, I just started a new job, and being the only black attorney, did not want to appear to be the slacker vis-a-vis my white counterparts.
But my daughter would often come home and mention how the other kids' moms were the guest reader in her classroom. I kept hearing the yearning in her voice, rather than just the words coming from her mouth, and it tore at my very heart.
So yesterday, I approached my supervisor and told her that I must become more visible in my daughter's classroom. She, also a "minority" who is also a stay-at-home-mom recently returning to the workforce, completely understood my predicament and was extremely supportive !!! It turns out that my job has been completely accommodating with child issues, way beyond my imagination.
It took only a few minutes for the teacher and I to arrange my "mystery reader" visit today and I made sure to mention that it would be a complete surprise to my daughter.
I must say, it was everything I hoped it would be. And I did it all before I began my work day today.