Tomorrow is Parent/Teacher Conference Day at my sons’ schools. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the dread most of the teachers must be feeling tonight. To these goddesses of education, I offer my sincere gratitude, sympathy, empathy and moral support…and I’ll bring a flask if you need it. Just give me a signal.
I’m sure these blessed teachers are trying not to think about the grueling day ahead of them tomorrow. But then again, maybe they’re looking forward to getting some questions answered. Like, “Oh. So THAT’S why your kid is such a moron/brat/diva/monster/angel/serial-killer-in-training,” when they finally get to really talk with the parents behind each particular inmate.
Sure, they got to meet families for two crazed minutes at supply drop off, but that’s not a true representation of who we really are now, is it? My kids’ school has this completely demonic tradition of supply drop-off being held for the entire school for ONE HOUR the day before school starts. It’s bedlam and I loathe it with the intensity of 10,000 burning suns. Frankly, I think the school does it just because it’s one last dig at the parents before they have to deal with busloads of backpack wielding nightmares. Let me set the scene for you just what this fresh hell is really like:
It’s usually about 95 degrees that day with 90% humidity outside. Inside it’s maybe a balmy 80 degrees with hundreds of hot, stressed-out bodies clamoring to find lockers and classrooms. There’s pushing and shoving and yelling…and that’s just the parents. The kids are usually the most subdued they’ve been in months, as the reality of the first day of school hits them with that first whiff of fresh floor wax. Moms and dads are barking out orders to their kids as they divvy up the supplies, “Put the paper towels in the bin by the sink! Put the 500 glue sticks in 100 gallon drum by the teacher’s desk! And fer crissake, STOP smelling your Sharpies!”
Then the teacher finally makes her way over to introduce herself. She’s calm, cool, collected and there may be an angelic glow coming from her (or maybe you’re seeing the weird lights that precede a migraine). Parents probably fall into one of three categories:
- The seething pot of hostility. Completely done with summer and children. The fights upon fights have finally done them in and they’re three heartbeats away from a stroke. A tight-lipped smile is about all they can muster as they count down the seconds until the bus comes tomorrow.
- The groveller. They practically kiss the teacher’s feet with gratitude because she will save them from their children in a few short hours. They apologize in advance for all the crappy things their kid will surely do during the year and promise generous Christmas gifts.
- The weepy sap. “Oh the summer went so fast, I can’t believe my darling perfect baby is going to be in X grade already!” (Clearly this parent is overly medicated, has been drunk all summer, or has not lived in the same house with their children.)
Perhaps they’re a combination of these. Needless to say, it’s not the true representation of who they really are. Their children have probably beaten that out of them over the past 3 months.
But the teachers know all of this already and over the past few months, they’ve gotten to know each kid and their particular brand of crazy. Parent/Teacher conferences are the perfect opportunity to see parents at their most vulnerable — when the teacher gets to present the facts, like a fortune teller turning over the tarot cards, as she goes over the grades, scores and behavior reports. How the parent reacts to these facts is very telling. Relieved? Outraged? Shocked? Demoralized? The teacher just stores it all away, along with the stressed-out/apologetic/demanding emails they’ve sent over the trimester, for storytelling in the teacher’s lounge like a brave warrior tells the hallowed details of a brutal battle.
So dear teachers…you saints of Common Core, classroom management and Jolly Phonics. I salute you and wish you luck tomorrow. You have one of the toughest jobs on the planet, and I thank God daily that I don’t have to homeschool because of goddesses like you
P.S… My children have so far only had female classroom teachers, thus for the purposes of this post, I referred to teachers as she/goddess etc. That’s not to say I don’t sincerely thank all of the amazing teachers who are men. You gods of learning rock the world of education too! I’m sure you will suffer the wrath of my children soon enough.