Last week, I had my very first parent-teacher conference, for Flora. It seems a little silly to me to be analyzing a kindergartener’s progress (or lack thereof) in school, but at the same time I recognize that now is a good time to find out about problems (if there are any).
Mrs. D could not say enough nice things about Flora. She talked about how “bright” Flora was — that was her exact word. She extolled her interest in and grasp of mathematical concepts; she praised her phonics and reading ability. Socially, she is doing great, not only making friends easily (her daddy’s influence, without doubt) but also standing up for herself when/if she is getting flak from other students. (I guess a couple of boys in Flora’s class are cutups in general, and Flora is very clear about when they are bothering her, and to knock it off.)
Her one weak point — and if you’ve been reading for any time, this will not surprise you — is her ability to focus in the face of distraction. For example, if she brings in something for show and tell (every Wednesday!), she needs to put it away right away. Otherwise, she has trouble focusing on the work she should be doing. She has a little trouble listening to instructions the first time, but ultimately, she completes her work and tasks in a timely way. So: she rated a good under “listening skills.”
I was delighted by my conversation with Flora’s teacher, obviously. Thinking about it a few days later, I have to admit that the “stand up for herself” part of the conversation is the part that caught me most off guard.
At home, Flora withers under teasing, criticism, or disapproval from me or her father. Or even other parental adults in her life (i.e. grandparents). She cries very easily; if disciplined, she will sob about how “bad” she is. So to hear that in another setting, where she might be teased (granted, by her peers) that she will stand up for herself was interesting (and encouraging).
Now, I don’t know if it’s an adult versus peer thing. Or if maybe it’s about the time that I’m interacting with Flora. It’s evening, and if we haven’t had dinner — forget about it. Like her mommy, Flora is a little grumpy if she is hungry. Plus, it’s a long day for a 6-year-old, and it gets dark early, and, frankly, like many a kid these days, I’m sure Flora is tired. (Hell, I’m exhausted by the time we all get home.)
I think, too, it’s appropriate that in public, Flora acts vastly different than she does at home. I have heard from many an adult (and babysitters) that Flora is sweet, well mannered, and fun to be around. And I’m not saying that she’s not sweet with me or her Daddy, or fun to be around. But she also — with me — can be demanding, whiny, dramatic, and difficult. As I mentioned in her birthday letter, she melts down at the drop of a hat (faster when she’s hungry and/or tired).
And, that’s okay. She is a bright and affectionate little girl, and it’s so nice to hear she’s doing well. It’s amazing to watch her grow and change and adapt to the world around her. I’m a lucky Mommy.