I so vividly remember saying these words to my mom before she would go to parent-teacher conferences in high school. I wanted to keep her from disclosing personal things about me. Or statements that I gushed or admitted about teachers or classes when I was at home.
To her credit, she was pretty good about it.
Although there must have been something she said once or twice that made me feel the need to say this to her. I stand by this. I don’t remember what she must have said, but I’m sure it was something horribly embarrassing to adolescent Stimey.
Today it was my turn.
I got to be the parent for the conferences today. Yay me!
I went to Jack’s special ed class this morning, and found out that he is doing great. They say he is super smart and really good with the academic part of school. They act out stories, and his teacher says he is a terrific actor. He plays the little red hen and Mrs. Wishy Washy, whoever that is.
And it turns out that the names he’s been giving me actually ARE kids in his class. Way to remember details from the past, Jack!
His reluctance to follow directions that his teacher pointed out earlier in the year is getting better, although she did note that when it’s time to clean up, he tends to purposely step on the blocks rather than pick them up and put them on shelves, but I know all about that from home. If he did actually pick something up at school I think I’d have to move in there, because he doesn’t do it anywhere else.
He’s pretty up front with his disdain for cleaning. I like to think he gets it from me.
Sam had a half-day at school and his conference was in the afternoon. To preface the following incident, I have to give you some background. The grading system at Sam’s school (probably much like at many kindergartens) is as follows:
☆ = I did my best work.
☺ = I made some mistakes.
✓ = I did not do my best work.
Until a few days ago, Sam had never gotten anything other than a star. Then he brought home a couple of smiley faces with notes on the papers like, “More careful tracing,” and “More careful coloring.” And I was like, “Oh, ha, ha, my son is getting imperfect grades for coloring outside of the lines in kindergarten. I totally have to blog about this.”
And then today he came home with three pieces of his work. One was a star (given by his regular teacher). Two were checks (given by the teacher from his english group. There was no note on the checks and, I swear to God, they looked identical to the star one. Maybe the coloring was a little sloppy, but I mean, really, he’s six and he’s coloring.
Then, when Sam started sobbing and telling us how he didn’t have enough time to be careful, and, “please, please, don’t tell Ms. S that I got a check,” it stopped being funny. I told Sam that I wouldn’t tell Ms. S, and then I promptly went in for my conference and told Ms. S. (Future Sam, if you ever read this, I’m sorry. I knew Ms. S wouldn’t think badly of you.)
I felt kind of like an idiot bringing it up and showing her the checkmark, like, “Look at my precious son. Someone’s gone and given him a check and I’m completely outraged!” But I don’t care if he gets a check. (I mean, I do care if that’s all he gets, but that’s a whole other story.) I don’t care that the teacher gave him the grade she thought was right. I do care that his work on the check paper and the star paper were virtually identical so he has no idea how to make changes and get a star. I do care that he was absolutely devastated by it. I do care that, in fact, that was his best work. Because we talked about it, and he told me he tried, he really tried, but he ran out of time.
Ms. S was similarly perplexed. Sam is her star pupil. His behavior is great. His work is great. She said she considers him her assistant. She said not to tell anyone (keep it under your hat, Internet), but that she feels like there’s the class and then there’s her and Sam. I’m not so naive as to believe she didn’t say this to a few other parents as well, but her gist was that he is doing great. She was surprised because she’s never given him anything but a star. She said that she would talk to his other teacher to make sure that she knows how sensitive he is. She also said she would ask the school counselor if she had any ideas on how to reduce the poor little dude’s stress.
I’ve written before about Sam’s kindergarten stress. I’m a little sad that he feels so much pressure so early. Make that a lot sad. I wish his kindergarten was like my kindergarten was: coloring without strict repercussions if you strayed outside the lines, free play, recess, running in circles.
He’s two months in and they have him doing graphs, patterns, reading, dictation, counting by tens, and more. He can make a graph, but they’re dinging him for coloring outside the lines or using the wrong colored crayon? I’m glad that they’re preparing him academically, but at what expense? I don’t want him to flame out because he’s so stressed about getting something wrong.
So. I’m sorry, Sam, for saying things to your teacher that probably would have embarassed you. But you are great. You are smart. I love your coloring. And I don’t give a shit if you get a check. I’m proud of you, no matter what.