Managing through the parent-teacher conference
Halloween is behind us, the candy has been donated, and the decorations are starting to come down. ‘Tis the season for the real horror show of JV mothers – the parent-teacher conference. One of the most poignant and clear memories most parents have is dropping a child off on their first day of kindergarten. For me, my son was almost a year younger than his classmates. We had just moved to the neighborhood and, during drop off, it felt like everyone there knew each other. Eventually, my son made friends, we met other parents, and drop off became the morning social hour. But, the real surprise came in the form of our first parent teacher conference.
My son’s kindergarten teacher had been teaching full time for less than five years. Not to be an ageist, but she looked like she could have been his older sister. I came prepared with a notebook and ready to hear that he was a model student and clearly an academic wizard. This was of course going to be the case. How could it not be with my husband – the Varsity Parent – who was home full-time to give him all the enrichment, coaching, and encouragement he needed. Well, the following happened: his teacher let us know that he was a smart kid, but not exceptional kid. Also, that he was really struggling with reading… and could not resist the urge to sing out loud. I burst into tears and had not so nice things to say to my husband. And, of course, this all transpired in front of my son, because in this day of enlightened schooling, it is now the student-led parent teacher conference. The most pernicious part was the guilt: Would it be different if I were home or spent more time reading, coaching, and encouraging?
It was irrational and, sadly, became a theme for the first three years of his schooling. The semi-annual parent-teacher conference finally reached the point of being comedic; but, not before hurt feelings and between me and my husband and creating dread in son for the event. But, eventually, I learned the following.