Written in December 1998

A rose by any other name … just doesn’t smell as sweet. At least not to my 3-year-old son Tanner, who was planted this year in the preschool class of Mrs. Heather Rose. To Tanner, Mrs. Rose possesses a unique, magical fragrance immune to the likes of his mother, father, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Under her tutelage, Tanner has, well … blossomed.

The kid who in September refused to touch anything even remotely damp or sticky now finger-paints robustly with shaving cream, chocolate pudding or any other ingredient Mrs. Rose may have identified as the artistic tool of the week. As a mother who had finally come to terms with the fact that I might never display a prized hand print from my first born, I now marvel at my little Picasso’s vast collection of painted, five-fingered treasures created at preschool. I guess Mrs. Rose just makes artwork more fun.

At home, where Tanner’s selection of dinner entrees has never ventured beyond chicken nuggets and pizza, my numerous attempts to entice him with scrambled eggs were always met with staunch rejection. But all it takes from Mrs. Rose is a pinch of green food coloring accompanied by a rendition of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham, and my culinary king is devouring the powerful proteins in class! I guess Mrs. Rose just makes them taste better.

I can’t bribe my child to wear a pair of blue jeans. I can’t convince him to let me put a quarter in the stationary rides in front of the supermarket so they will move. But for Mrs. Rose, Tanner complacently dons chaps and a cowboy hat, then hops aboard a live pony and takes a ride before cheerfully posing for a picture. I guess Mrs. Rose just makes adventures more exciting.

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On his annual preschool review, Tanner receives high marks from Mrs. Rose for his patience and problem-solving ability, yet at home collapses in a fit of tears when the Legos don’t stack up the way he intended. “What does Mrs. Rose do when he acts that way?” asks my frustrated husband, with a look that begs for a rational answer.   “He doesn’t act that way for Mrs. Rose,” I respond with a sigh.

During Christmas break — a frightening period when preschool closes for a seemingly endless two-week holiday — Tanner’s visiting Nana struggles to keep up with her grandson’s boundless energy and teeter-totter of emotions, which remarkably always seem to remain in check at preschool.   “Do you think Mrs. Rose could come over to our house for a little while?” my mother inquires hopefully … make that desperately.

Let’s face it: if I were a more insecure mom, Mrs. Rose could be a real thorn in my side. After all, my child listens to her, behaves for her, tries new things for her, talks about her, and aims to please her. (At this point, I would celebrate if Tanner would reward me with just one of those accomplishments!!)

But how can you not love a woman who presents blue Jell-O and Cool Whip as the sky and clouds; who makes edible Play Dough for her tactile students; who promotes self sufficiency and discourages tattle-telling; who knows all the words to “Mr. Golden Sun”; who always makes sure the applesauce gets eaten before the jelly beans at lunch time; and who transforms abstract religious concepts into the simple peace and knowledge that Jesus loves us all — and then shares all of these incredible gifts with your child? This is one teacher who should never be weeded out of a preschooler’s life.

Just think how much sweeter the world would be if we could plant a few more Mrs. Roses.

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One thought on “A Rose By Any Other Name

  1. Melissa ~ Tears of sweet memories! I cried the first time I read this and you have done it again!! Look at his sweet face! And just look at the young man he has become!!! What an incredible gift I had to spend a few moments in his early life. And beyond that a friendship with his Momma that has continued through the years. I am looking forward to your blog entries…….MORE MORE!!!!

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