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w November 22, 2002

Tree, Apple

Not falling far from...yes, it's that time of year again. PARENT CONFERENCES. Imagine, if you will, four tired women sitting expectantly in a classroom still pungent with the assorted odors of adolescence, smiles afixed to our faces, grade books open, pencils twitching, eyes darting to the clock to see if it is damn it, 3:15 yet? Lest you think we were eager to start, let me hasten to add that conferences begin at 2:00, end at 3:15 (with the exception of Thursday night. More on that later). Every day this past week has been a minimum day, so that we can meet with parents for 75 minutes after school on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can imagine the chaos.

Essentially, parents show up, consult their darling's report card, and go to whichever teacher is available first. This usually ends up being me because I am unabashedly the mistress of the Turbo Conference. Now, I don't rush the parent, exactly, I just get to the point after mentioning how delighted I am to have the child in my class. I have found that mentioning this first off puts the parent in a terribly receptive frame of mind, and you can then sock them with the "but s/he needs to be a little more, ah, consistent in completing and turning in homework". I can get through 10 parents in 30 minutes, swear to god. It does help that I don't teach a subject that the Socialist Democratic State of California deems necessary to micromanage, I admit that, but still, I think this is pretty impressive.

Meeting parents puts a whole new face on those delightful bundles of hormones...and lends a great deal of credence to the old adage about the apple's trajectory from its point of origin. It's not just the physical resemblances, although those are interesting...it's just so obvious that that kid belongs with that parent. It's not bad or good, just DNA. The other interesting thing is to see which parents show up...it's rarely the ones of the kids who are failing or squeaking close. The ones who do show up concerned about a grade help shift the kid over in my mind from "hoo boy, have we got our work cut out" to "okay, this is manageable".

I had started out this entry intending to wax amusing about my personal observations of some of the parents, but as I wrote, I started to feel kind of ashamed of my snobbery and cynicism.

I sat there last night talking to a steady stream of people who were in my shoes thirteen or fourteen years ago, changing diapers, dealing with spit up, worrying about whether or not their kid would walk early or not...wondering what they'd be like as teenagers. And I realized that I'm going to blink and Bean will be sitting next to me at parent conferences, rolling her eyes or making faces at her friends waiting with their parents...and I'll be on the other side of the table, wondering if this teacher or that truly has my child's best interests at heart, fretting about grades and potential and blah blah blah.

This is a Huzzah for all those teachers who have just finished conferences and are hopefully crawling into a bottle of wine right now, but it's also a Huzzah for all those parents who have gone through this before, are going through it now, and are anticipating with fingernails between teeth.

Hang in there: as teachers, we do realize that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and the vast majority of the time, that's a good thing.

by at November 22, 2002 8:18 PM | TrackBack Comments
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