Baby Dorothy. That's what they called her. My Kindergarten class squealed in delight when I announced my pregnancy and they couldn't wait for her to arrive.
Then, she died.
When it was time to go back to work, I was afraid to see them. I knew that they loved me and that they hurt for me, but I also knew that 5 and 6-year-olds say what's on their mind. I was worried that they would say something that would upset me and I wasn't sure how I would control my reactions.
I was still so raw and so very vulnerable.
My return to the classroom was met with an abundance of hugs and stories about recess. I was gifted heart-filled pictures and choruses of "we missed you." It was just pure love.
It was wonderful to be back and it was also completely overwhelming. I was still waiting for their questions or their comments about what had happened. Baby Dorothy died and I was sure they were going to have something to say about that.
At snack time, I sat next to one of my quieter students. He hadn't said too much since I had returned and I wanted to connect with him. I asked him about his family and how P.E. had been. He kept his responses short and I began to worry that he was uncomfortable around me. Maybe he didn't know what to say.
During a long and slightly awkward pause in our conversation, I noticed him staring at me. "Can I ask you something?" he said to me.
Here we go, I thought. I took a deep breath and nodded, hoping my smile looked more reassuring than it felt. I reminded myself that whatever he said, he didn't want to hurt me. I told him to go ahead.
"Was Baby Dorothy the most beautiful baby?"
And that is what is so wonderful about 5 and 6-year-olds, they almost always say what's on their minds.
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