Dear Kindergarten Teacher, We Must Be Helicopter Parents For Our Son With Congenital Heart Disease

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“Dear kindergarten teacher,

I feel the need to introduce myself. And honestly… I need to go ahead and apologize for my wife and I.

As soon as we walk out the door tomorrow you will see that toe-headed, blue-eyed sweet little boy shyly pausing in the back of the line.

He’s mine.

He is about to stick his hand out to introduce himself, and say, ‘Hello ma’am,’ and it will be the first time in his life he’ll say it without me behind him.

And tomorrow, while exciting for him – is soul-crushing for me.

Because of the way this little guy came into the world, we are going to be absolutely knee-deep in your business.

For that, I do apologize. The front seaters of every parent/teacher conference, likely even the president/VP of your PTA.

But kindergarten teacher, what I need you to know is that we went to war with this little boy, and there’s still blood and torn flesh on our armor.

We are, and forever will be, the ‘Helicopter Parents’ you read about in your textbooks.

Please accept my apologies, but I promise we mean well. We truly do.

We taught him to eat. Twice.

We taught him to talk. Twice.

We taught him to walk. Twice.

I have watched his heart stop, three times.

I pray that you never know what a child looks like in a Pediatric ICU room with 65 people crowded around his lifeless body, but that’s where our overprotective PTSD all began.

If you ever have to change his shirt, you’ll see the proof. We call the big one down the middle, a zipper.

He’s quite proud of it, be cautious with how the other kids discuss it.

He’s proud of it now – but if you let another kid steal that pride, you will hear our parental helicopter blades ripping through the air and over the ridge expeditiously.

His lips get blue when he’s cold, but he’s ok.

He twists his toes over each other when he gets nervous, but he’s just thinking through it.

He has a strange tendency to put his fingers in his nose when he gets shy but immediately retracts them when caught.

And that shy little boy in the back of the line? He is the sweetest of gentlemen.

He says ‘yes ma’am,’ and ‘yes sir’ upon inquiries from adults.

He still believes in Santa, and that he will one day marry his momma.

Although he has been on the front stage of all things evil in this world, he doubts even its existence.

His heart, while physically still broken – is amazingly whole.

And Pure.

He is almost reading.

In fact, he is so frustrated that he cannot read ‘all the words,’ I would imagine he will have his ears and eyes fixed on you as you start teaching them.

He will dish out tons of hugs and has this kissing thing going on right now that, even momma and I agree, is a little weird.

He even has the smooch sound down perfectly.

He just learned to ride a bike without training wheels and will tell you all about it.

He is an excellent fisherman and loves to help people with their tasks.

He is an undeniable medical marvel, but there is no cure for his diagnosis.

We do not talk to him a lot about it all anymore.

The medical team has done everything they can.

The next step would be a heart transplant but hopefully, we have decades more with him.

We also know it could be only years.

Don’t make him have to talk about it for me.

That’s a daddy conversation, please.

He will miss a few days of your class, but I promise you his momma and I will do double time on make-ups at home.

He might even miss a day or two around duck, and dove seasons, but you can direct that frustration straight to me, as Momma will share in your disdain.

I know you are skilled, schooled, and willing.

I also know you are capable.

We will not stand in your way, but we will help light the path (with a crap ton of cheering at every turn).

We build things in my house. We’ve rebuilt this sweet little boy too many times to count.

If you need something – I’m your guy.

We can build anything. Literally.

I only ask one favor.

I do not care how fast he does this, or how well he does that.

As long as he treats others well, shares his soul and gets home every day with the same sweet, fragile heart – he will get the rest in due time.

Long story short, he is my best friend in the world.

My wife and I have done everything in our power to do best by him.

We trust you will do the same.


The Helicopter Parents.”

dad holding up son on shoulders
Courtesy of Jeremy S/World Of Broken Hearts

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jeremy S. A version of this story originally appeared on “World of Broken Hearts,”  founded by Suha Dabit. She helps spread awareness for congenital heart disease (CHD) and organ donation. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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