Last week I attended my very first parent/teacher conference as a parent. For some reason I feel like I used to go to the parent/teacher conferences when they were about me, but that could be wrong. No matter. The point here is that I went in there, listened to a very nice older woman talk about my kid, who she told me, as nicely as possible, is an utter spaz. He can’t sit still and he likes climbing and running and when he has to sit still, it’s pretty much an impossible task. He’s no longer allowed to sit next to his best friend because together they’re an unholy menace.
I don’t really care about that shit. I mean, sure, I’d like him to be well behaved and not be disruptive, but he’s a three year old boy and I’ve got what I believe are fairly realistic expectations of what is to be expected of him. As far as I’m concerned, all that shit will fall into place, and there is really only one thing I want him to take away from preschool: the ability to make and maintain friendships (this includes big, important intangibles like socialization and also simple pragmatic things like not just being a dick and punching someone in the face because you feel like it), and it seems like he’s doing that just fine, so whatever.
However, I also know that it’s a teacher’s job to assess and communicate any issues that could potentially be concerns and that the absolutely shittiest part of a teacher’s job is dealing with parents who are inclined to argue with the teacher’s assessment or dismiss it as shortsighted, prejudiced or in some cases an outright attack. Teachers have a shitty, hard job. I deal with two kids that I love more than anything on earth and after about two hours I am completely at the end of my rope. Teachers deal with dozens of little shits every day who they have no genetic imperative to love or nurture, and kids, when put into groups, go fucking bonkers. I can’t imgine how shitty it must be to endure day after day and then, when the teacher finally sees the malicious, shitty, dumb kid’s parents and expresses concern, the parents say things like “you just don’t like our son. He’s plenty smart” or whatever the fuck it is they say. The upshot of this is that although I’m not overtly concerned about my son’s designation as a spaz (and I’m completely stoked that he’s made a bunch of friends and seems to be popular) I listened and talked through it with his teacher and I’m gonna be sure to work on helping focus his energy at home to hopefully make the teacher’s life easier.
I talked to a few other parents in my kid’s class though, and I was amazed at how defensive and shitty they got when relaying to me the minor issues (because these kids are so small, it’s all minor issues) that the teacher said their kids have. One parent was mad that the teacher said that their kid wasn’t developing skipping skills (which is admittedly kind of stupid), apparently and another parent was livid that the teacher suggested that their child was an aggressive kid who was prone to getting up in people’s faces. These people were kind of mad, but what the fuck? Those are things that could, potentially be concerns. Gross motor skills and socialization. That’s the bread and butter of preschool assessment, man.
How the fuck can you get upset about that shit? What is the endgame? You can’t possibly imagine that the teacher would just create a hostile parent/teacher conference just out of the ether for no reason other than she dislikes your child. That’s just inviting a fight for no reason. It seems to me, that, were I a teacher, when the really shitty, hopeless kid’s parents came in, I’d say “eh, he seems fine” and be done with it. But that’s because I’m lazy and really not cut out to be a teacher.
And yes, I DO realize that especially as kids get older, there are shitty, vindictive, completely fucked up teachers out there and that they may in fact hold grudges and throw little petty hissyfits about my child even if he’s an absolute angel (ha!) and that will be something to navigate and deal with as the situation arises, AND I guess that I can think of some three year olds that really, truly rub me the wrong way, so I guess it’s not a TOTAL stretch to say that perhaps these parents are not just bent out of shape for no reason, but fuck me, man. This is a sweet little old lady preschool teacher we’re talking about here (and YES, I’m aware that sweet old lady preschool teachers can be terrible people when the parents aren’t around too) and it’s not like any of it matters.
Look around at all the people around you right now. Notice anything about them? They’re all completely demented and fucked up and gross and rude and unbelievable. At best they’re dorks and at worst they’re YOUR disgusting friends and family. Everyone in this place ends up fucking crazy and bizarre. There’s no way out. Somebody calling your child an absolute angel and blowing platitudes up your ass isn’t gonna save ‘em, and their inability to skip or keep their hands to themselves, (while they are things you should work on with your child), isn’t gonna be the fault that tips them into the depravity they’re eventually destined to inhabit. The only thing to do is just get out there and try to encourage your kids not to punch or kick or choke. And hope they make some good friends, because nothing will fuck up a kid so fast as bad friends or a bad girlfriend/boyfriend situation. That’s how you get into TROUBLE.
But my kid is 3. So I’m not too worried about that yet. Besides, the only way to combat bad friends/boyfriends/girlfriends is to be a good example yourself, so well, chances are, you’re either completely fucked or all set from day one.