Monday, 21 November 2011

My first parent-teacher interview

Over the weekend I seriously considered quitting my job, growing a garden and homeschooling my kids. I even Googled some simple pants patterns - wondered what could be so hard about sewing the kids’ clothes. My Grizzly Adams moment came after my parent-teacher interview with Deaglan’s teacher.

Sometimes I think our culture has gone to shit.

We’re too quick to push our kids out the door, short-cut them through childhood because it’s convenient for us. I see it all the time when people marvel over a baby who sleeps through the night straight out of the womb and shake their heads wondering what’s wrong with the one who fusses and acts needy. I get sidelong looks when people hear I’m still nursing Naveen – they make the typical jokes about the need to stop when the kid can ask for the breast by name. All of a sudden the needs of the adults have taken precedence. We expect our babies to work around our schedules.

I’m a little bruised from the parent-teacher interview – can you tell?

Deaglan’s teacher suggested that we encourage his independence in order to boost his self-confidence because when he’s sitting in circle, learning his letters and numbers, he never raises his hand to answer questions. She felt strongly that this was directly related to how we were [babying] him at home.*


She asked me if I thought this made sense. I was diplomatic even though my mind had taken the first left to crazy-defensive-mother-ville. I asked her calmly how he was doing in everything else. Oh great, he’s cooperative, sweet and peaceful, we never have to speak to him she raved. I told her that it wasn’t important to us to push him to attain some advanced status; we just wanted him to be happy and well adjusted especially in the face of such a huge change in his little life.

She insisted that we needed to work on building his self-confidence.

I resisted the urge to remind her that he was born on Christmas Eve, most of the kids are at least six months older than him, that he had just spent ten months in my womb not even four years ago, went from being an only child to the one who gets less attention just last year. That this time a year ago he was still two for Chrissake – TWO! That legally he didn’t even have to be in school for two more years. I didn’t scream that we were thrilled he was making it through the days without a nap and a meltdown.

I didn’t say these things to her. I know she was just trying to help. But I did notice that the next time Deaglan asked me to help him put on his shoes, I panicked a little, found myself wondering why he couldn’t figure this simple thing out.

And I hated myself for it.

*She didn't say "babying" but she sure implied it.

Here are the outtakes of our photoshoot with the auto-timer last weekend. We're trying to get just the right one for our Christmas card. Shaune and I couldn't agree on any of these, so we'll try again this weekend coming.


  1. I don't know how you could stay quiet. I wouldn't have been able to. Why is it that we're always in a hurry to get our kids from A to B instead of letting them get there on their own time?

    P.S. I like the 3rd one.

  2. I am so sad this conference did not instill confidence. I'm sure that teacher meant well but she fell short on her coaching skills.

    Just keep doing what you are doing. I know you are doing good things for him. This is not medical school and not super competitive. He will get there when he is ready.

    Did she consider something else might be the cause of his lack of hand raising other than his home environment? Maybe a child said something about an answer that made him self conscious. Just thinking out loud.

    I would certainly be a bit hurt, too. It will pass. Thank you for sharing with us. I just wish I could give you a hug and make it better.

    By the way, I think the family photos are lovely. I can't wait to see what you choose.

    P.S. if you received a weird email from my yahoo address that was suggestive or seemed like a pyramid scheme, my apologies. I had a virus but it does seem to be resolved.

  3. Eh, don't worry about it. He seems happy and adjusted. Just because he doesn't raise his hand to ask questions doesn't mean he lacks confidence. Maybe he is just more reserved or shy or introverted. Maybe the teacher needs to accept that part of his personality and appreciate it, instead of trying to change it. He's so young, you know? Sometimes I wish teachers would just let kids be, instead of asking them to all be what the perfect normal child would be.
    Disclaimer - of course all teachers don't do this, but some definitely do!

  4. I agree with Lisa. He is definitely a happy and well adjusted kid. Society has these preconceived molds that they say kids have to fit into or the kids need help. Bull.
    Bottom line-you love your boys and you have your priorities straight. That is all that matter Kim. You rock the mom gig! Hugs:)

  5. Oh my goodness...this comes at such a perfect time, as I just had my oldest kids' parent-teacher conferences last night. It took everything I had not to burst into tears during my first graders as she was talking about self-confidence as well. All I kept thinking is "what am I doing wrong? How can I help her?" Maybe it's not me or her or Deaglan...maybe it's just these other adults, making them grow up too fast.
    Thank you for this, Kim. :)

  6. I can already tell that I'm going to suck at Parent-Teacher meetings because I would have lost it when she implied I was "babying" my son. He is happy and well adjusted, that is all that matters. That is the only thing I can hope for my son. And the pictures are great, btw!

  7. So far I've been lucky - our parent teacher meetings haven't set me off. But I know it's just a matter of time before Maya doens't get a good teacher!

    I try really hard to be open to whatever people tell me, even if it's against my parenting skills because I do want Maya to be well-adjusted. And since I'm not very well-adjusted myself I'm working against gravity here!

    Hang in there my friend. It's hard to hear these things but don't doubt yourself. You are an amazing mom!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. It's one of those battle-picking things. If I don't feel like the teacher is on track, sometimes I offer my own opposing view and sometimes I just silently decide to ignore what she/he's said. :-)

  9. Oh. My.

    I would have blown a gasket. So sorry.

  10. Teachers (even for my third grader) probably still think that I'm too "mommyish" for my kids. But you know what? They are good kids who feel comfortable in their skin with their family. I agree, Kim. What's the rush to make them grow up so fast? As a mom of a teenager, that growing up does happen and all this so called push to make them independant very young isn't necessary. The kids get there soon enough. And those older kids are connected with a bond to all of us moms who were "hands on" through those young years.

    Love ya for your honesty and mama bear love for those cuties. Love the pictures too. - Kel

  11. Teachers say the stupidest thing sometimes..."I taught for 10 years." Sometimes, we can come off "holier than thou."..Keep being the fabulous, attentive Mom that you are!!!

    I've got to get busy on my card too....


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