I was excited for Back-to-School night this year. I looked forward to meeting my daughter’s new teacher, and hearing how the school was preparing the kids for kindergarten next year. In just a few short weeks, my daughter has learned how to spell and write her name, and I wanted to know what else I could expect this year.
Since we didn’t have a babysitter, my husband stayed home, and I headed to the school that our 4-year-old daughter, Miranda, has attended since she was 18 months old. She loves it there, and so do we.
At Back-to-School night, I had some one-on-one time with the teacher, who told us that our daughter is a delight to have in class; she even remarked that she wished she could “have a classroom full of kids like her.” My heart burst with pride.
Shortly after we reviewed the lesson plan for the year, the teacher and I made some small talk. Before I turned to go, before I let the next parent have her chance for some face time with the teacher, I realized that there was more to say—and it wasn’t going to be easy.
“So, wow, this is awkward,” I began. “I just wanted to let you know that Miranda has a sister. She was stillborn a few years before Miranda was born. Her name is Allie, and Miranda mentions her. A lot.”
I then explained that at age 4, Miranda has trouble grasping the concept of death. I also told her that we associate butterflies with Allie. So every time Miranda sees a butterfly, she thinks her sister is passing by. Her teacher was compassionate and kind and was glad I told her. She made eye contact with me and did not shy away from the very personal topic. I explained that there was nothing in particular she needed to do when and if Miranda mentions Allie, but now at least she would be able to understand her.
There was more.
“Since I am oversharing anyway,” I continued, “you may want to know that Miranda is adopted.”
Her teacher said she had no idea. (People often do not, since Miranda looks like my husband. It’s really like she was meant to be ours.)
“It’s not anything you need to teach her about or even talk about–we are doing that at home,” I explained. “But in case it comes up, we wanted you to be prepared.”
Again, her teacher said she appreciated my letting her know. I said goodbye, and took a walk around the classroom to look at the various art projects and pictures displayed throughout.
As I pulled away from my daughter’s school, I was not sure if I should laugh or cry. Laugh, because I pretty much just told a teacher I barely knew the most intimate parts of my life story, or cry because of, well, the same reasons. I did neither. I took a deep breath, focused on the beautiful family I had waiting for me at home, and drove home.
Until Miranda is old enough to tell people around her what they might need to know about her, then it’s our job to do that for her. So that is what I did, and that’s what I will continue to do—on Back-to-School night or any other night.