Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teacher Conference Day...@#%$#!

@#%$#! as in, Arrrrgh!!! (c'mon, you know I wouldn't say that;)

I dread teacher conference day, even more so than I did when I was the the subject of dissection. The meetings feel more like an inquisition, but what kind of mom would I be to worm my way out of them?  It's my parental duty. Was it in the fine print of the contract I signed at the birth center that I would go, of my own volition, to these lynchings? It really doesn't matter whether my kid has been scoring A's or F's, I know it's all a ruse.

Nowadays, I arrive to the ambush donned in full armor. My defenses engaged, walls up, and already bristled by what terrible slanderous things the teacher is going to say about my child, to which she'll actually project on moi and my careless decision to over-populate the planet with yet another humanoid that doesn't  fulfill their duty to society by spending all their free time studying, brooding, over their ginormous pile of home-work of paralyzing proportions. Unwittingly I'll nod as the teacher gingerly points out how my child is not testing at neighborhood state guidelines and how he/she will degenerate into a complete mental retard within the next two years if I don't start reading to them ASAP

Call me a bad example but I didn't sign up for 'Teacher" classes in college. I'm not good at teaching academia and I don't pretend to be. I'm a concrete learner, I learn by doing. Unfortunately, I birthed children who learn different than me and my knee jerk response to them is to lose my ever-loving mind when they don't get what I'm trying to explain. It frustrates me to the nth degree. I boil on the inside and call my kids mean schoolyard names and banish them to their rooms for not understanding what I said the first time. I want to spoon out my eyes and shave my head with a potato peeler.  But I have, however, embraced imparting morals, values and ethics into my kids, illustrating love and relationships, instructing them on manners, and disciplining them on accountability, integrity and self control.  I presumed there was a perfectly good public school system in place my tax dollars were paying for that would teach them all the reading, writing and arithmetic stuff. I'd depended on it. Apparently I was mistaken..

A teacher told me once in a conference how brilliant my son was in school.  He was a natural whiz, a truly gifted and bright child. He aced all his advanced math tests and showed utter genius on his written science exams...but...he never turned in his homework so she was forced to FAIL him... Eh? You mean, he's proficient in all the material and he's learned what you taught him but he's, failing? "Yes. And its your fault. You have failed him by not helping him do his homework."  But I don't know how to do his homework, I flunked pre-algebra three times. "Well, Mrs.Frey, how can you help me solve this problem?" about you don't give him homework?!  *big pitiful grin*

Last week I attended my daughters first teacher conference.  She's in kindergarten.  I was just coming down from an unfamiliar high after wrapping up a rare, glowing five-star conference with my son's 4th grade teacher.  I should have known better than to frolic into my daughter's classroom on that glittery bubble of merriment and delusion.  There sat her teacher, just waiting for me with her pitch fork. Crap.  I'd left my armor in the other classroom.  So on she went, tersely telling me how my daughter is behind national world levels and giving me lots of helpful tips on how I could teach my daughter how to read...Eh? You mean, she's here in your class for 8hrs, 5 days a week and she hasn't learned how to read yet?!  "Well, you'll be amazed at how fast she will learn if you'd just go over these 17 worksheets, have her memorize these 9 pages of  sight words, practice her handwriting, plus have her read aloud to you the 3 books I send home with her every day and then just read to her 30 minutes every night!"

I left that conference totally dejected and angry with myself for not having taught my 6yo how to read before she started school. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Now she's bombing Kindergarten and in imminent danger of becoming an illiterate homeless person and I was all to blame. How did I become such a base and shamely slug of a mom? Who was I to ever reproduce?

But then I got over it. And then I was mad. It can't all be my fault?!  There's just got to be something wrong with the way our schools are teaching our kids when we are 7 months into the school year and my daughter, who spends most of her waking hours with her teacher, cannot phonetically sound out words!  When; my neighbor home schools her kids, spending just 2 to 4 hrs a week with her 4yo and he is basically at the same reading level as my daughter. Based on this pathetic fact alone, I would home school my kids if I had the patience. But I don't...besides that someone would eventually call CPS on my arse. So, kudos to you home-schooling moms! I envy you.

FYI, I am picking up the slack now and reading to my daughter more. *Let us all exhale now* She is sharp as a tack, smart as a whip and I know she's gonna be fine, just like her older sister and brothers. Perhaps I'm a little jaded and the teachers aren't as awful as I depict here...they seem like nice people I might even be friends with otherwise. Under the circumstances though, may have to quit going to their interrogations, bad parent or not.


Christina said...

This was really funny! Audrey is far ahead of Logan when it comes to reading. She is gonna be fine. Your life is very entertaining. Keep up the good work :)

David Cho said...

Lisa, looks like you're doing a fine job of entertaining yourself here with lots of flair. Love your engaging writing style.

Thanks for visiting my now defunct blog which I may or may not bring back to life. In the meantime, you can find me on Facebook ( I have about two dozen readers who followed me to Facebook.

Anonymous said...

You're so right. You wouldn't have a CLUE how to homeschool your kids the way the public school system "schools" them. I actually only know about three homeschoolers personally who school their kids that way with textbooks at a table and blah, blah, blah.

The rest of us (real) folks school our own way. And you know what? The learning happens along with the yelling and and frustration (of both the teacher/parent and children) and life moves on. That's what homeschooling is, m'dear. It's schooling at home, a way of life, with real interaction amid laundry and making meals and working. If you want to homeschool do it, and on your own terms. It's legal, it's valid, and it WORKS.

angellwaves said...

I love it! You are so funny! Don't worry about Audrey! She will be just fine and you are a good mom:)

kwhite22 said...

I love, love, love your blog! Just my two cents about schools...Home schooling is 1:1 attention. By the time you take out recesses, lunch, and other interruptions, children get 4 hours of academics in a classroom of 24 (many who do not speak english or have ever opened a book). Now, a teacher should never make you feel to "blame" like you did. Teachers think reading is the priority in life! Now, this is coming from a teacher and principal! LOL The bottom line is you are a great mom and your conference made you feel different!

Lisa said...

Thanks Kwhite22, there are a lot of great reasons I will keep my kids in Public schools. I appreciate the teachers who take personal interest in my kids and especially the ones who ENJOY teaching. It truly is a gift to have the kind of love a patience it takes!

Lynda... said...

I'm with you!! Since when did our children need to be reading at a 2nd grade level BEFORE entering public school?? AND...I stopped helping my son with his school work last year (5th grade). I told him that I completed my work on my own when I was a kid, and he could do the same. I told him he would face the consequences for not doing his work. You know what? He was FINE and made all As. Sheesh! I'm a mom, not a teacher. :-) Love your writing, by the way.