It’s parent-teacher conference season, and I can’t speak for all parents, but for me it’s a little nerve-racking. I know my children, and even though they come home with (mostly) high marks on their papers, I wonder how they are doing in the broader scope of school.
Flora has attention issues. She rushes through her homework so she can get to something more fun. Her spelling isn’t so great — a blow to me, her writer and copy editor mother.
Kate is, with me, at home and in public, utterly irrepressible. She bounces, she dances, she pokes, she bursts through boundaries. She is incredibly enthusiastic! Boundlessly energetic! So much so that I’ve signed her up for pep squad (oh yes I did)!
I think of these things as I sit outside their classrooms awaiting my conference times. Are they getting along okay? Is Flora still day-dreaming when she should be attending to her math lessons? Can Kate sit still?
Flora’s teacher comes to the door and welcomes me into the classroom.
“I just have to tell you first of all,” she starts. I hold my breath. “I love your child.”
Flora and her teacher share an affinity for birds. Honestly, Flora is like a mini-ornithogist. The teacher loves that! She then goes on to tell me all the good things Flora does: participates in class, works hard and works well, is polite to adults and to her peers. Yes, she does need to work on slowing down, and yes, she definitely needs to practice her spelling words. But she’s a pleasure to have in the classroom; she’s very bright; she is going to do very well if she applies herself.
The attention issues she had last year seem to be on the wane. She is present. She is a good friend.
I want to hug this teacher.
Then it’s Kate’s turn. Kate has the same first grade teacher that Flora had, but this is not even mentioned. So, that’s good that she’s not comparing (or contrasting, as the case may be) the two. She praises Kate’s reading ability, her willingness to sound out words she doesn’t know (this is true, Kate’s come a long way in this area; I’ve noticed at home), her very neat printing. She says when Kate has downtime in the classroom, she always gets a book and reads. She’s doing well in all her subjects, she gets on well with all her classmates, she comes into the classroom happy and ready to work, and she participates. She loves to help out, as well, putting things away, helping clean up.
“Does she, is she okay sitting still?” I ask nervously. “Is she disruptive in any way?”
The teacher looks surprised. “Oh, no. She’s sometimes a little chatty, but she quiets down when I ask.”
I want to hug this teacher too.
In spite of me overthinking the parenting thing, in spite of my divided attentions at home, it seems my children are doing all right in school. This is a relief, and it also makes me incredibly, incredibly proud of them.
I go home and give my girls big giant hugs for being good students. (I give M one too because, let’s face it, he’s awfully darn cute.) I sing their praises to Bella and Tadone, and to their dad later.
Some days, instead of worrying about doing this parenting gig wrong, I get a clear message: Whatever I’m doing, I’m doing all right.