I’m not proud of this, but I have accepted that it is my truth: I hate school, because I’m not terribly good at it. Now, this is not coming from my view as a student mind you. I could go to school as a student forever and never tire of it. No, I hate school as a parent. I suspect my hatred is made worse because I’m a former. I know too much.
Case in point: My daughter, who adores school (just as I did at eight) and wants nothing more than to please everyone (as I also did at eight) came home frantic today because she didn’t arrive on day one with her book report project. I was upset because I was certain that project was not due until next week and I had led her to this first day fail.
The point is not what date was correct but, well, actually there are two points.
The first is: no one cares. (Well, except maybe the eight year old.)
I know the teacher wanted those projects to be presented today so that she had something to do with the kids. She probably loves her job. (I did.) She may be incredible at her job, (I’ve heard she is.) but first days of school are dumb. It’s universal.
Make the first days two half-days, mid-week, before a four-day weekend and forget it, they’re practically useless. This woman needed to kill time, people. You can’t do any instruction in two half days before a four-day weekend no matter how hard you try. And yet, as short as that time is for instruction, it draaaaaaags on when you have nothing to fill the time.
I’m sure she got to know something about the kids today with these projects, like how they read or who does assignments on time (crap) and who speaks well in front of the class. (My girl woulda killed that!) But the teacher also needed presentations as a time filler. I get it. Trust me. I’ve been there and I think this was a smart plan. But my poor precious eight year old thinks she has started off third grade with a big fat FAIL even though her teachers assured her that was not the case.
To her credit I was quite proud of the progress my little girl has made since last year. She bounded out of school and told me about the project with a smile on her face and the determination to “make a better second first impression” tomorrow. It was only later, as she lay on the floor completing her project, that she let me know she cried a little in class when she found out about her gaffe. I told her this time it’s my fault. I wrote it down wrong and she can tell her teacher to blame me.
This leads me to point number two about school:
When you’re a parent, school can be crushing.
I have three kids in school and it feels like I have the life of someone who is three and a half years into partying at college and just realized they need to get their stuff together or all their friends will move on without them. I am taking 36 credits in life these days.
I have emergency forms and permission slips times three. I have obligations that come with parenting at a co-op preschool and a charter grammar school, times three. I have to keep track of dates and times and money amounts for more activities than you can shake a stick at and my kids are purposefully UNDER-programmed and I am notoriously hands-off, meaning I do everything to instill an urgent sense of responsibility at a young age so my kids start taking care of their own crap young. This doesn’t include the daily responsibilities of being their parent, like feeding and clothing them which also usually requires some sort of income producing activity which takes even more time and brain power. Thankfully I’m pretty laid back about most stuff like clean floors and folded laundry. I can’t even imagine if I was Type-A. I’d probably be dead.
Being a teacher makes it harder because I know what they’re thinking. Of course we’re not all the same, but there are some universal truths.
- Teachers want kids to be responsible, yet they often wonder what’s up with the parents when the kids are not. So when my girl forgets things because I lost track of all the details, I know it’s a reflection on me and I hate that it’s a reflection on her.
- Teachers often assign things because they have to, not because they place any value on the assignment. We’re pretty lucky in this regard, as the teachers at our school have (so far) creatively encompassed State mandates into a challenging yet interesting curriculum. But there are days where my girl struggles over what I think is busy work and it’s all I can do to force her to finish it rather than write on top of the page what I really think of it and how it’s intruding in our lives.
My kids love school and I think I act in a way that promotes that love. After all, when I was their age I loved it too. I hope I can continue the charade of not hating the ins and outs of being a school parent, at least long enough for them to be in charge of their own assignments every day.
I’ll be happy when they get into high school when if they forget something it’s all their fault.
I don’t wish for my kids to grow up too fast, but I do look forward to the day where none of my mail is addressed to The Parents Of.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Cristie can usually be found admitting her shortcomings and sharing her music and kitchen escapades over at The Right Hand Mom.