This is long so if you want to skip the usual angst, the question is: how do you talk to your kids about parent teacher conferences?
I wonder how many times I’ll write about meeting with RR’s teachers. I have already, at least once, and I’ve yet to feel anything but nerves about it. The same holds true for my evaluations at work. I’m usually doing the best I possibly can (and often, better than most) but I know I can always do better and I have always worked with people who were diligent about pointing out areas for improvement. It makes me queasy just thinking about it and I won’t even be in that position again until October 2014. I’m too hard on myself. I don’t want my kid to feel the same.
That said, our most recent parent teacher conference left me with a gnawing pit in my stomach. RR occasionally pushes instead of asking another child to leave her space. RR loses her concentration at the end of the day and “unravels”. RR sometimes yells “to block out the noise of the classroom”. RR did not know how to roll a mat until last week. RR is too focused. RR won’t potty train, “Is there something anatomically wrong with her?” RR sometimes answers questions with nonsense. RR doesn’t recognize when other children are sad. Or, alternatively, RR recognizes it but doesn’t appear contrite, choosing only to offer an ice pack. RR doesn’t pay attention to where other kids are on the play structure. RR doesn’t know how to say, “you hurt my feelings” and tell the other children how to make it better. RR sits with the teacher at lunch because she gets”overwhelmed sometimes”.
I wish the list of good things was longer. It starts with “RR is a little ray of sunshine” and ends with “RR is a pocketful of joy”. You guys, that’s what they say about someone for whom you have no other comment. The equivalent of “She has a great personality” or the single comment “Stay sweet!” in a yearbook. When pressed for something positive, we heard the following four things:
She has great fine motor skills. She can string beads all day!
She loves the sandpaper letters!
She can skip!
She is very focused! Sometimes she doesn’t even look up when we are talking!
She doesn’t find the transition from school to home that hard (i.e. she has good manners).
I really appreciated those, especially on the heels of all the rest. I know they are sharing what she is working on so that we can do the same at home. But, and I never thought I’d say this, I missed the chart with all of the developmental milestones the class was working on over the year and seeing her progress in a clearly defined way. Sure, it’s completely arbitrary and I didn’t always agree with it but within the current system I have no way of knowing if my child is delayed or otherwise not progressing as her peers are. And I’ll be honest, I very much care about whether or not she needs assistance and getting it for her. I also want to know what’s “just being three”. We think she’s a perfectly regular child (although is proficient and noted skipper).
A friend commented that we don’t need to be told how awesome our kid is because we already know but I that’s the thing. I don’t know. I think she is but I don’t know. And my thoughts don’t matter if what she really needs is someone to help her stop holding her ears when she hears loud noises. What I know is that we have a quiet house. We’re not yellers. We don’t have much background noise. Trucks startle me, too. I don’t cover my ears because I’m grown enough to know people would look at me oddly. She’s three. She covers her ears. What about that isn’t normal? But I don’t know. So when they say occupational therapy and, of course, everything above, I think that I don’t know anything. Nothing at all.
My own parents must have had these conversations but they never talked about it with me. I wonder how we will do it as RR gets older. I feel like she should know that we meet with her teachers, that we care about what they say, that we care about what she says about those things, and that we’re a team in getting the most out of her school experience. But what do you do with the outright negative stuff? How do you temper it and learn from it (especially when you’re me, who clearly has both problems with authority and a complex about feedback of any kind)? I want to start setting up habits now so that when she’s sixteen it’s less of a squirming, uncomfortable experience. Dinner table seems a recipe for indigestion. Car seems trapped. Where do you do this and how do you do it? And of course, I’m not telling my three year old any of the above. As far as she knows, she is awesome and doesn’t need anyone to tell her she isn’t.
Filed under: Third Year, Uncategorized | Tagged: coping, everyone else, introducing rr, long read, M/D | 18 Comments »