There’s something very grown-up about attending a parent-teacher meeting. Or at least there is in the pre-attending stage when you might mention it to your mum on the phone or slip it in to conversation with your neighbour. But when you pitch up at the school, that all evaporates and you feel like the child again. This is no doubt aided by sitting on midget-size chairs outside the classroom as you wait for your timed slot with the other expectant parents. Rooting through the samples of your child’s work set out while sizing up the competition and sneaking a peek at another parents stash.
We’ll call this teacher MissK. She tends to run over so there’s always a gaggle of parents built up outside in the corridor – all with earlier time slots, still waiting to be seen.
So the pre-consultation consultations begin. With the other parents.
Junior is finding the maths a bit challenging. Not easy, these fractions.
Really? We’ve had no grumbles yet. My girl is just getting on with them.
It’s those equivalent fractions …
‘Oh! We haven’t had any of those..
Conversation ends as the penny drops…one child in on extension work when clearly the other isn’t. Or worse case scenario, fear sets in and one parent is left wondering if their child is following a remedial math programme.
Time to move on to another parent.
And then it is my turn in the classroom. Teacher says ‘ Oh dear, lots of parents still to see. No offense but this should be a quick one’. Glances at her prompt sheet. ‘ B-R-I-G-H-T girl but NOT working to her best’. I hear Chatterbox, daydreamer …terms etched on my soul from my own school reports. And that’s all I can remember from the 10 minute chat. That’s what I take away.
As soon as I come through the door my seven-year old asks what was said. As I repeat what I remember my DD sobs. Should I have cloaked it in innocuous rhetoric. The teacher didn’t. But then I’m not 7 and can take the truth.
And whose truth is it at any rate. I can’t seem to help myself when I start on the ‘ do as I say and not as I did’ routine. This is where sitting on potential got me blah blah blah. After my 5 minute diatribe I ask my daughter if she can see what I’m getting at and she shrugs. She’s 7. Talking aside in class isn’t going to nobble her of her stab at life, swindle her out of a promotion. But my reaction could be the fodder of a therapy session twenty years from now. I need to get perspective. I need to get a job!