Thursday, October 22, 2009

Makin' Lemonade

So, after I posted this post a couple of days ago, I got a bunch of wonderful comments. Mostly, it was people who were saying, "My public school is great! Don't think all public schools suck. It's just probably your school - your school needs to make changes," etc. etc. That made me feel marginally better, although I began to feel even more stuck. We can't really afford to go back to private school and the public school has a bunch of sour-pusses in it.

Then I got comments from Angie and Tammie. And, boy, did those comments make me think.

After all, I *DID* ask for perspective, right? And, those ladies sure did deliver. In a good way. In exactly the way I needed it.

So, today I have conferences set up with Charlie Brown's teacher and also Peppermint Patty's teacher. This is because the regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences were held 2 weeks ago, and Charlie Brown ended up staying home with fever that day, so I had to cancel. But, previous to this post, I was all ready to go into the meeting with my poker face on and my guns blazing. I have PRECIOUS CHILDREN and YOU OBVIOUSLY DON'T LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS I DO and SOMETHING MUST CHANGE IN THIS SITUATION BEFORE I GO ALL APE-SHIT ON YOUR ASS!!!

And now? Now I'm ready to sit and hear what they have to say. I'm ready to listen with an open mind. I'm prepared for my children to get less-than-glowing reports. I'm okay with holding back on offering my 2 cents about their teaching techniques. But, mostly, I think I'm ready to focus on the good things they have to say instead of the bad things. Because I have to admit, these teachers at my kids' school, they aren't all bad. They have high expectations for their students (isn't that what we wanted???) and they expect the students to meet those expectations (consistency - an awesome practice). I think they have too many stupid rules at that school, but after talking to my friends whose kids also go to public school, I'm finding out that our school really isn't that different. ALL public schools nowadays have a policy for everything from what type of shoes you can wear to how long you can observe your kid in class each week. The change has just been a shock to my system.

As much as it stung to hear someone tell me what I needed to hear, it was good for me. It helped me really think about WHY I was so critical of my kids' school(s).

I guess I always looked at those hovering moms (some call them "helicopter moms") and thought, "tsk, tsk, why won't they just give their kids some space?!?!" And now I just can't be objective enough to figure out if I'm one of those moms too. I don't think my kids are perfect, but maybe I am not being realistic either.

Maybe those teachers really *DO* love my kids.

Maybe those teachers really *CAN* teach my kids how to succeed.

Maybe those teachers *ARE* smarter than me, when it comes to teaching primary school.

Maybe, just maybe, their methods will make Peppermint Patty better at being less forgetful. (At home she can't remember where she put anything and immediately forgets simple requests. At school she forgets to bring home her homework at least once a week. Well, here's hoping.) Maybe a different adult - besides his nurturing mother - will get Charlie Brown to focus his inquisitiveness instead of simply rushing to get his work finished before anyone else. And, I have a good feeling that Linus is going to grow up a lot this year. I like that his teacher doesn't hold back on the expectations OR on the praise.

So thank you to everyone who commented. It was a perfect mix of support and perspective and advice. Y'all have no idea how valuable that is.

Or, maybe you do.

(in case you don't understand the title of the blog, it's from the saying, "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade".)


McVal said...

I hope you have good conferences today! Good luck!

Emily said...

I went back and read their comments. That would be hard for me to hear if it was pertaining to my kids, but it was good advice. Especially Angie. So true...we do need to step back and try as hard as possible to take an unbiased look at whole situation. Kudos for you for making some lemonade!!! I think you're doing your kids a great service and really teaching them about life!

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Honest Angie Strikes Again!

I am proud of you, girl. I have no doubt, that all your decisons you make you do with your kids's best interest first and foremost in mind. So, whatever happens, I know God will lead you on the right path and will guide you to continue to question rules that need to be questioned or shrug them off. Same with a seemingly bad attitude teacher. You will know when it is prohibiting your child from developing and when it is just a pain in the ass that you have to deal with.

And for our entire life, we will always have some pain in the asses that we have to deal with.

I love you, girl.


Cookie Crums said...

I hope the meetings go well. To me this is one of the hardest parts of being a mother...and I only have one child (another on the way). He's only 2 so we haven't really gotten to this point yet. But it's hard b/c you want to do whatever is in your power to help your kids but at the same time there's a line where you have to let the teachers do their jobs.

I can't begin to imagine having several in school and experiecing this. Guess I will in a few years right!!

Tammie said...

good luck with the conferences. i really hope they ease your mind a bit.

for what its worth, i wasn't pleased at all with my son's education last year. i didn't feel like he was being challenged and i felt like he was being allowed to slide by because he was well behaved. i lost sleep most of the year over what to do. in the end, i decided there was really no reason to do anything, and i stopped thinking about it. my son was doing well and he was happy so why mess with it?

this year he's in middle school and he's being challenged in ways that please and excite me. im glad i didnt cause a stink with his teacher last year (although many times i wanted to) because i think it all sorta evened out, ya know?

i think it's awesome that youre having this discussion. i think it can never hurt to take a moment and evaluate the education our kids are getting. we want whats best. we're mamas--that's what we do.

also, i agree with cookie crums comment. its such a fine line and i know i constantly struggle with the idea of crossing it. i dont know whether to "make lemonade" or throw lemons at people.
(i sorta want to apologize if my comment yesterday had any snark in it. in rereading it, i sense some and it really wasnt my intention. thanks for not taking offense.:)

Foursons said...

Glad to hear you got some good feedback. Let us know how the conferences go!

Wendy said...

My daughter was just humiliated by a mean mom at a sleepover last night. We had to go get her because she was crying & stopped participating in what was going on.

As a mom I want to go smack the woman in the face, then bring my daughter home & protect her forever. I've seen this lady keep a campaign of ugly gossip up against another little girl (a little girl!) for a year now, and I'm sure she'll have plenty to say about my daughter now, too.

But I can't protect Dolly. I was faced with wretched adults as a kid, too. My parents did nothing to help, not even encourage me - which was bad - but some of that hurt became a motivating force in my life, motivation to succeed and to be more than what they thought I was.

I rocked her for an hour while she cried and slowly told me about it. I comforted her and kept my anger to myself. Today she is all hop-skippity-jump-around again and happy. We talked a little bit about what she could have done herself to make the evening more successful.

I'm better able to deal with all kinds of kids because of Dolly. She is the hardest kid I've ever seen. When I bring up things we have been through with her, other moms are speechless. That kind of thing can happen? The trade-off is worth it, as evidenced by the nasty mom who had 19 kids at her house & obviously couldn't handle it, so she took out her stress on my daughter (who was jumping up & down in place, apparently, for which she got sent home from the slumber party).

I can't do anything about that other woman. And Dolly is going to have to learn that not all parents - not all kids - not all teachers - not all bosses - not all coworkers - are going to be as patient and long-suffering as she has taught her own mother to be. She has to figure out how to harness her own energy when necessary.

Or else she will end up like my sister-in-law, who has, as my husband says, "a personality like a turd in a punch bowl" and who struggles to even keep a job because she is so difficult to deal with. I much prefer Dolly learn by some embarrassment & some hurt in 3rd grade than by social isolation and constant unemployment as an adult (or whatever other consequences she might have to face).

It's so hard - Cowboy is everyone's darling & Dolly's experiences are so dependent on who is in charge of her. Last year's teacher thought she was a really bad kid & sent home nonstop complaints about every little thing, stupid things - this year her teacher thinks she is funny and sweet and she gets perfect behavior reports every day.

It's so hard - but if I protect her from it now, she'll have to face it as an adult on her own. The best thing I can do for her is help her learn to cope with herself & the outside world.

I hate public school. It's like boot camp for real life. So awful. So useful, too. There's a lot of opportunity there to guide kids, now while they are still young enough to listen to us, if we can figure out how to do it. I hope I don't fail in that regard.