Today is the last day of school for one of my sons (apparently…. read through to the end for more on this. My bad).
In that spirit, I decided that parental school-suffering and teacher appreciation would be as good a topic as any for today’s post. Given my background and stage of life, it’s probably safe to say it won’t be the last.
“Teacher Appreciation” doesn’t even cut it.
I thought I understood “teacher appreciation” before my kids started school. After all, I’ve taught high school for about a decade now and I have worked with some incredible, compassionate, awe-inspiring teachers. Then my oldest started school and I realized there was a whole new level of teacher appreciation I hadn’t yet experienced.
If your kid has a halfway decent teacher, you will 98% love them. You will be eternally grateful to them for teaching your kids important life skills like reading, writing, and walking in a semi-straight line.
You will also love them so much for absorbing some of the 18 billion words your child speaks daily. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m known as quite the chatterbox myself, but at some point, GOOD GRIEF, CHILD, LOCK IT UP!
I think of my oldest’s teachers with adoration regularly, even teachers he no longer has anymore, for all of the conversations they have fielded on my behalf.
The other 2% of dislike is entirely not the teacher’s fault, and comes when you hear your child say things to you like, “Ms. Heather says you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit” or “Miss Gamble says we need to wash our hands so we don’t spread germs”
Oh does she?! I’m soooooooooo glad that you are washing your hands because Miss Gamble says it’s important. I’ve only been saying that 10 ish times per day for the last five years or so, but yes, by all means, let’s start washing our hands now because Miss Gamble says so. Giant eye roll and sigh.
Grade school is actually A LOT of work… for parents!
You did not know this as a child, or probably even as a childless adult, but school is hard work for parents. Elementary school is most certainly harder work for parents than for children. I hope the same is not true in middle school, but that is a dead zone with which I’m not yet terribly familiar, though I’m not optimistic.
High school is hard work for parents too, but it’s a completely different type of hard. My mom and dad served as taxi drivers and relationship-worriers for years and years, but they didn’t have to do my homework with me and they didn’t have any role in Spirit Week (aside from chauffeuring me to my 5,000 destinations).
Spirit days and other fun activities at the elementary level are basically parent homework. And it’s homework you have to do, because if you don’t, the other few hundred kids whose parents followed through will send their kids to school all decked out in costumes and body paint while your sad kid slinks around in his regular clothes because Mom’s too tired, her brain hurts, and someone drank the last Diet Mt. Dew.
After struggling to dress my child as an athlete, pirate, future career professional, and 100 year-old man (!) this year, to name just a few, it’s clear that adult-me is not nearly as good at managing spirit days as teenage-me.
To top it off, this year, Oldest’s elementary school did Sprit Week TWICE! What fresh hell is this?!
The one shining star in Spirit Week for our house is crazy hair day because my oldest has a thick head of Home Alone hair and a cowlick that takes care of that day’s obligation all on its own with no assistance from me.
Part of our Kindergarten’s 100th day of school festival (this is, apparently, a thing now) is to bring in 100 items. I assumed we would send 100 Legos, because we have thousands of those and I would shed tears of joy if none of them ever returned again. However, my kindergartner had a very clear idea of what he was going to bring: Pokémon cards. Again, not something I would miss in the slightest if they never came home, but he would.
I could’ve had him select the hundred and bag them up (promoting independence, right?), but I can see clear through to the end of this nightmare scenario, wherein he selects 100 of his favorite cards and, after hanging on the wall in an elementary school for an indefinite period of time, said cards disappear, never to be seen again.
Cue days of sobbing and misery (from child and parents) until the grandparents rush in like the cavalry and purchase new ones for their spoiled brat precious angel. Not today, Satan!
Instead, I decided that I would choose the cards for him and see if he argued, which he did not (pretty much a miracle, but I digress). Sounds simple enough, but it was not. The challenge that I overlooked is that it’s now very difficult for me to count to 100.
I used to be able to do things. Lots of things. Smart things.
Those days are gone.
That morning, it took me no less than five tries to get 100 cards. And I don’t mean I missed it by a card or two. No no. At one point, I had only 90 in what I was sure was the finished deck.
Heaven help us when we get to serious math with our kids. Hubby, with his math skills and mental faculties still intact, may have to start cutting back his hours at his legit, bill-paying job to ensure our kids have a fighting chance.
Preschool: the parental training ground
Because most parents enter the world of school blissfully unaware of how much work awaits them, there exists a training ground. Enter preschool.
Thank goodness for preschool because, aside from setting great foundations for literacy and partnering with you to teach your child the proper way to be a human (sharing, listening, taking turns, etc.), it is also training you for what lies ahead. There are checks to be written, folders to be signed, emails to read but forget, newsletters to plan-to-but-never-read, snacks to pack, and the list just goes on (forever).
The stakes are low, mercifully. If you forget to sign the folder, no one’s kicking you out. If your kid (ie you) forgets their project, there’s no failing grade. But this is just a glimpse of what lies ahead for the next 13ish years of schooling. Preschool is your “Couch to 5K” app for the grade school years.
For an example of just how forgiving preschool is of parents –this week, I literally didn’t realize that it was the last day of preschool for the year until I arrived to pick up my middle son.
While waiting for him to come out, I noticed that a lot of people were holding gift bags and there was quite a bit of hugging and picture-taking occurring in the car line for pick-up. It is at that point that I decided to ask someone if today (Wednesday) was in fact the last day, rather than the next scheduled day (Friday). Rather than mocking me mercilessly, as I probably deserved, the classroom aide just smiled and informed me that yes, today is the last day.
Preschool is kind like that. Preschool teachers are saints.
But in all seriousness, one thing that being a parent of school-aged children has driven home to me is: holy moly, how lucky are we to have these awesome adults speaking love and life into our kids?
I think to myself, more often than I probably should, “It’s a good thing that I stay home with these kids, because I don’t know how anyone who did not birth them would let them live through this day!”
And yet these teachers are surrounded by so many littles, day-in and day-out, in what, if it were me, could only be described as a hostage situation.
When I think about all the work they are doing with and for us, I could just lay down and die with gratitude.
To illustrate my point (man, I love a good pun), below is a picture my son brought home this week in his classroom sketchbook. I read it and I wanted to walk right up to his teacher, tackle her and kiss her.
Of course, I also didn’t want to traumatize her or be put on the school’s watch-list, so I settled for a thank-you email. Whatever.
For anyone who struggles to interpret the fantastic penmanship of a kindergarten boy, that’s “I’m feeling excited about the first day of first grade in training because I can make new friends. I will be sad because I will miss Miss Gamble so much.” (Note the tears drawn on the boy.)
Do you have any school-fails you’d like to share? Help me feel better and leave them in the comments! Also, if you’re now staring down the long tunnel of summer, feel free to check out my Top 5 Summer Survival Strategies.
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