A few weeks ago, a Denver teacher did something that really got our attention.
Kyle Schwartz handed out Post-it notes and asked her third graders to complete the sentence, “I wish my teacher knew … ”
She does the exercise every year to learn more about her students, but this year, she posted a few of the children’s replies to Twitter with the hashtag #IWishMyTeacherKnew.
Some of the responses were so heartbreaking in their honesty, such as one child who wrote that she wanted her teacher to know she didn’t have anyone to play with, and another who wanted her teacher to know that she misses her dad so much because he was deported to Mexico.
No surprise, the effort became a viral sensation, with teachers and students around the country using the hashtag to weigh in.
So, as we looked ahead to Mother’s Day, we thought, “What if we ask kids to finish the sentence: I wish my mother knew … ?” and recorded their responses. What do they wish their mom knew about how they feel about her?
We invited a group of mainly second graders from my daughters’ public school to a glorious community garden in Manhattan, the West Side Community Garden, which has over 12,000 tulips on display.
You couldn’t ask for a better backdrop for our chance to probe these young minds when it comes to their mothers, and the children didn’t disappoint.
“I hope my mother knows that I love her more than she loves me,” said Riya.
When I asked what her mother might think when she hears that, she replied, “She’s going to think it’s the opposite way … that she loves me more than I love her.”
Said Sophia, “I wish my mother knew that I love her so much that I cannot explain how much I love her.”
Phoebe said that she wishes her mom knew that one of her favorite things is when something funny happens and they stare at each other, and crack up, which makes everything even funnier.
“It feels like you’re not alone. Somebody else feels the same way,” she said.
Taizo said he wished his mom knew that he loves her even when he gets mad at her. “I wish she knew that. She does great things,” he said.
Some of the kids used the opportunity to send a message to their moms: Charles wishes his mom knew he wanted to go to “Harry Potter land,” Ian wanted his mom to know that he likes certain types of flowers because he doesn’t get to go to gardens a lot and Lily wanted her mom (this reporter!) to know she “loses her cookies” too quickly.
And what does she mean by “losing her cookies?”
“It means she gets mad too quickly,” said Lily, who suggested I should “eat a piece of cheese and calm down.”
Molly wanted her mom to know that she really misses her when she is on vacation or away. Lorelei wanted her mom to know how much she misses her while she is in school. “Sometimes I kind of feel like I’m going to cry,” she said about that feeling of missing her mom.
Sawyer wanted his mom to know she’s the “best mom ever” and that he scraped his knee. Claire wanted her mom to know that when her mom asks her to read when she takes the dog for a quick walk, she first checks her texts.
“I don’t think she’ll be mad,” said Claire about when her mom finds out. “She’ll just laugh.”
Romy said she loves her mom “up to space and back again,” Chloe said “to the hottest sun in the world,” Avery said probably even more than opening her arms as wide as they could go.
And Becca said, if she marked her love with a scale from the ugly duckling to the swan, she’d pick the swan.
To all the “swans” who give so much love to their children, Happy Mother’s Day.
Our gift to you are the complete responses from 24 remarkable boys and girls.
1. “I hope my mother knows that I love her more than she loves me.” — Riya
2. “I wish my mom knew I miss her in school.” — Lorelei
3. “I wish my mom knew that when she tells me to read when she takes my dog out I first check my texts.” — Claire
4. “I wish my mama knew I love her so much as the sky, like I am a big heart. I love mama.” — Chloe
5. “I wish my mother knew that I like certain types of flowers because I don’t get to visit gardens a lot.” — Ian
6. “I wish my mommy knew how much I loved her and flowers.” — William
7. “I wish my mother knew she gives good hugs too.” — Ty
8. “I hope my mom knows I love her a lot.” — Avery
9. “I wish my mommy knew that I would like to go to Harry Potter land.” — Charles
10. “I wish my mom knew that she is the best mom ever and that I scraped my knee.” — Sawyer
11. “I wish my mother knew she means the world to me, that is true.” — Becca
12. “I wish my mom knew that one of my favorite things is when something happens and we stare at each other and we crack up which makes it more funny.” — Phoebe
13. “I wish my mom knew that she is hilarious and helpful, loveable and amazing.” — Hattie
14. “I wish my mom knew how much I loved her.” — Rafael
15. “I wish my mommy knew that I love her.” — Jaime
16. “I hope my mom knows that I love her even when I am mad at her.” — Romy
17. “I wish my mom knew that she is a great cook.” — Aaron
18. “I wish my mother knew how tough and amazing she is because she always supports me.” — Madalee
19. “I wish my mother knew that I love her so much that I cannot explain how much I love her.” — Sophia
20. “I wish my mom knew how much I love her. One of my wishes is for her to be happy, always happy. I do not like to see her sad.” — Ava
21. “I wish my mother knew that she loses her cookies too much.” — Lily
22. “I wish my mother knew how much I love her even when I get very mad at her. I wish she knew that. She does great things.” — Taizo
23. “I wish my mother knew how much I love her.” — Jake
24. ‘I wish my mother knew that I really miss her when she is on vacation or when she is away.” — Molly