When I was a kid my parents were NEVER concerned about who we kids would get for a teacher each year. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never even thought about it. There was no discussion, no debate, nothing that indicated they even had clue one as to who was even teaching at the school let alone if they were qualified or an “appropriate fit” with the personalities of their children. Hey, school was free! Who were they to argue about or even consider who was placed at the helm of their child’s life journey through learning? There were more pressing issues, like the four mouths they had to feed.
Of course, school wasn’t technically free as they paid for it with their tax dollars. But my parents didn’t think about it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thought that crossed my mom’s mind was “free babysitter!” or “seven hours without something breaking!” I had loads of brothers.
No siree. When I was a kid, you were told who your teacher was, you showed up to class and that, as the saying goes, was that.
Sure there was discussion as to whether or not a teacher was mean or nice. But the discussion was purely amongst us kids. And those were the two categories we broke teachers down into- mean and nice. We didn’t really care about whether they were good educators or if we were going to come away better prepared for life. We were just hoping that we didn’t get someone who smacked your hands with a ruler or made you stand in the waste basket in a corner for an hour to make sure you got the point that you were a worthless piece of trash. Yeah. I had that teacher in 2nd grade. A real peach.
But even if we got that teacher, we didn’t bother to complain to our parents. Know why? Because they ALWAYS sided with the teacher. We were the kids so we must be in the wrong. It was us who had problems with authority. It was our responsibility to shape up. Bottom line, we were told to deal with it, suck it up and stop our whining.
Well, it’s a whole different ballgame these days, baby! And as things tend to do, they have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. Because we have gone from one extreme to the other on this whole “who will teach our kid” thing.
Today, there is soooo much discussion about teachers, their qualifications, their “fit” with the personalities of our children that the last two weeks of a school year and the two weeks prior to the beginning of a new school year, it’s all anyone’s talking about. Mommy cliques are abuzz with “who your child should get for what grade”. Moms beg hint to their child’s current teacher about where they’d like their child placed the following year, in the hopes that this will filter to the powers that be – whoever they are. Principals are inundated with letters “suggesting” who would be the appropriate fit for their child. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were attempted bribes in the form of Starbucks gift cards (highly coveted among adults who deal with hordes of children daily) or gift certificates to “Massage Envy”, maybe even a coupon or two for Tylenol or that Mexican place with the GRANDE MAMMACITA MARGARITAS! Ole!
Well, in the end it really comes to naught. Because our educators cannot be bribed… supposedly. And this is never more painfully obvious than the day the “class assignment postings” go up.
I don’t know about you, but in my hood, this is a BIG FRIKKIN’ DEAL. The school is adamant about waiting until 5pm the night before school begins to post the teacher assignments. If you guessed that 5pm was after all the office staff was gone for the day and the voicemail was on and administrators had long vacated the premises for the safer sanctuary of their bolted-up, curtains-drawn, lights-out homes – you guessed right. No way those folks want to deal with disgruntled mommies! You know the saying about “a woman scorned”? That doesn’t even come near to the wrath of a mommy who feels her child has been “inappropriately placed”.
In fact, I have known some moms who have broken down in tears over the stress of it all, so desperate were they to have what’s best for their kid. I won’t name names (me). Okay, I know it’s stupid. But let me just say in my defense that 1) it was couple of years ago when I was new to this whole thing and 2) I cry when I see my kid’s size 5 flip-flops and am reminded she’s growing up, so it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. Anyway, I’m not the only mom. I know PLENTY of others who have admitted to breaking down in tears over the whole thing. And not just because they thought their kid got a bad teacher. No, I have known mom’s to cry in worry that maybe their kids were in over their heads academically with a certain teacher.
But it isn’t just the mommies. Kids have actually gotten swept up in the discussion, too. They actually chat during lunch about who the teachers are to get. And a couple of kids I know, when they didn’t get the teacher they thought they “should” get this year, were actually devastated and reduced to sobs.
I know! It’s madness! Why are kids even discussing this? Why are they getting soooo wrapped up in the drama and debate of it all. Oh right. Because their mommies are! And whether or not mommies think their kids are too absorbed in their Nintendo DS’s or that episode of iCarly to hear the adult conversations going on around them, somehow they do. I mean, my kid can’t “hear” me when I tell her to pick up her socks, but she manages to regurgitate every detail of a private conversation I had with a fellow mommy two rooms away! Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as selective listening.
Honestly, I don’t know why we have become a nation of such overly-involved parents. For the record, I didn’t let myself do it this year – worry about who my kid was getting. I don’t know if it was because I’ve relaxed a little, or I’ve realized that we live in a good school district and there really aren’t any bad teachers, or maybe the words of Randy the perfekt husband have finally sunk in (though I’d never admit it to him):
“So what if she gets a teacher she doesn’t get along with? Nobody gets along with everyone. It’s going to happen eventually. I’d be a good life lesson. Besides, she’s a smart kid, she’ll figure it out. “
My husband the pragmatist.
In the end, I think the answer – as is usually the case – is somewhere in the middle. It’s important for us as parents to want the best for our kids and to do what is in our power to make that happen. But we also need to stand back, take a deep breath and have a little faith. Faith in our educators. Faith in our kids. Faith in ourselves as parents. So. Yeah. That’s what I’m gonna do. Have a little faith.
But the minute anyone makes my kid stand in a trash can… POW! TO THE MOON, ALICE!