When it comes to my son and any accessment about his education or development, I seriously lose my mind. No I mean it. I’d like to think that with most things in my life, I can keep a fair, rational, logical perspective on things. I don’t cry too much. I am realistic. Whatever, I can be cool. But for some reason, when it comes to my son and school or anything to do with how he’s growing up, I completely and utterly lose my frigging tree. A crazy lady, frothed and pleading, takes over my brain and there seems that nothing can be done. Are you relating to this? Or are you fanicated by another parenting train wreck post from me? Well, go ahead. Read on. I’m warning you though. I’m a nut job and I’m going to prove it.
When my wonderful Aunt S. was raising her son, she used to tell me about this insanity thing that happens to moms. My Aunt S. is a speech pathologist. And apart from being super smart about children’s development, she just kind of “gets it”. She is surrounded by amazing resources and she has been blessed with a very level head about raising children. But she used to tell me all the time that when it came to her discussing own child, all reasoning went out the window and some crazy lady took over. She would just kind of… loose it.
Oh. Seriously. You would not BELIEVE how I get what she was saying now.
Ever since the day my son was born, I have hung on every word any “specialist” might share with me. As I’ve mentioned before, my son had a pretty rough start. So if I am talking to ANY variation of child expert (and I mean ANY kind), I kind of loose it. Friends or family that happen to be teachers, substitute teachers, doctors, nurses, speech pathologists (I’ve got two in my family), or even just moms… or even people that have maybe even seen a kid before… once, I babble endlessly to them about my son. And I can’t stop. When they ask “How is school going”, I know they are expecting a quick “fine” back. Huh. Well, not me. My mind simply sees a green light, social norms fall away and I just… go for it. I launch into a detailed account about his social and educational development. What this teacher said, what friends I think and hope he is playing with, what test score he got, what I think is REALLY going on, after all I know best, I’m his mom. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!!! And as they quickly try to change the subject, I corner them into telling me that T. is doing “Great. Just GREAT. Really. He is.” And I calm my panting, wipe my brow and scramble to get a grip.
The irony? T. is a pretty smart kid. He really IS doing great.
(I’m holding back here. Really. I am. Don’t go on about Caroline. Don’t do it, girl!!!)
So yeah, he’s a smart kid. But that doesn’t satisfy me. And it’s not *HIM* that I am pushing (I don’t think?) it’s everything around him. If he is acing his reading, I wonder if the school is challenging him enough. If he is struggling with subtraction, I gasp and shake my head and fold my arms and ask my husband outright “Who the hell thinks subtraction is a good idea in Kindergarten? I mean, Come on!!!”
And what did me and my crazy lady within get to experience last week? The first parent-teacher meeting of the year of course. (Bum, bum BUM!!!) So there we were, early for our appointment. I paced out front, the children tackled each other on the sidewalk, and my husband stood there with his hands in his pockets, kind of breaking out into hives about being anywhere NEAR a classroom. (A brilliant man, but clearly he’s never been a fan of sitting still for class. Did I tell you he’s a college coach?)
When they called us in, all I could think was “Be calm. Be normal. Be NICE. And most of all. DON’T BE THAT PARENT.” We sat down, them across from us, record books cracked open, guarded smiles on their faces. And I know exactly why they were guarded too. Because they have dealt with freak after FREAK of parents marching in and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how THEIR kid is so uber amazing. Poor teachers. How annoying. Not me, not this parent, I GET it.
“So yes. Mr and Mrs. Morngsidemom, T. is doing very well. Very quiet. Pays attention….” And on it goes. But the more they talk, the more I butt in “Yes, did I tell you about his birth trauma? Oh, she knows but you didn’t hear about it? Maybe its just good you know, just to give you some context.” or “Hes very quiet because he is a ‘LISTENER’, thats how he PROCESSES the world (Heh, like I’m some expert.). He may not respond right away because he is LISTENING and is taking every bit in, I promise you.” “Mmmm, hmmmmm….” they say.
But c’mon. Even *I* know better. I know he’s off thinking about light sabers and speeders and which Star Wars episode is his favorite. But its like I can’t help it. There is some strange urge within to justify everything he says or does. To explain it. To tell them he is BRILLIANT DAMMIT, BRILLIANT. And by the time I have jumped into hyper-speed talking and gesticulating and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how MY kid really IS uber amazing… I realize, the teachers are just sitting there. Blink. Blink. With guarded smiles plastered to their wonderfully patient faces. Oops. I did it YET again.
So then, when we got back home from the meeting, per the Math teachers suggestion, I calmly (nervous laughing as I type this) sat down with T. and his subtraction homework. “Hon, maybe a number line is a good idea. You think? Here’s how it works! Stop coloring. Pay attention. Hey. Think dammit! A number line. Ok. Count forward or backward… ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION??!!?!! YOU’RE SUCH A SMART BOY YOU CAN DO THIS!”
Ok, I swear, I am not like that. Ask my husband, he sees “homework time” go down. But thats what the freak show, crazy lady, jumping around in my head is saying. Fer real.
Anyway, so I showed him the number line. And we worked on it together. And he got it and sailed through his homework. And that was that.
However. Have I wanted to harass his lovely (really, shes so wonderful) math teacher with a little follow up email??? Oh ho, yes. I wanna so bad. I bet it would go something like: “I printed a number line for him, it really works for him, if you’d just make sure he has one when he’s doing his work, that would really help, because he really understands the concepts, he’s such a smart kid, really, I swear, its just the WAY he PROCESSES things, a LISTENER, remember? I’m his mom, I know, so could ya get him a number line? MMM, thanks. That would be greeeaaaat.”
But nope. I haven’t done that yet. (Restraint being my middle name and all…) Although, I asked T. in the car yesterday, “So!” (-all calm and relaxed like-) “Did you tell your teacher that you would like to use a number line with your subtraction?”
“Oh! Oh that’s ok. So.” (Clearing my throat. Totally chilled out about the WHOLE topic.) “How was your quiz then?”
(SCREEEEEEECH, my car swerved all over the road, I was filled with utter glee.)
“I am SOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!” (beaming at that point, cars honking everywhere, but I. Am. BEAMING.) “But, uh, how did you do it without a number line?”
“I just used the one in my head. Mom? C. is picking his nose again. And wiping it on me….”
Yeah, well. THAT about sums it up, right?
Anyhow, for those of you who have made it all the way through this rambling post, this is only one small chapter in my epic novel of parenting madness. Someone needs to just tell me to frigging quit it. Someone needs to smack the crazy lady OUTA me. Someone needs to make sure I am not completely screwing him up at school. I don’t want EITHER of my kids to feel like they need to be perfect. I just want them to try to do their best.
And me. As a mom. Wondering (desperately, wildly, dramatically) how my kids will turn out, I guess they can’t expect me to be perfect either. I just am going to try to do my best.
(As for all you “experts” who I corner on a regular basis? My most humble, insanity riddled apologies. At least I am aware of the problem. Oh and by the way? C. hasn’t even started school yet… bum, bum, BUUUUUUM!)