Parent-teacher conference is not something that I mark on my calendar. I don’t lay awake the night before in nervous anticipation of the news of how my children are progressing versus the national standards. I go because I should. It gives a small indication that I am an involved parent.
Three of the girls are now in school; Jane, Prima, and Don Threeto. Each meeting with their teachers was awesome. I started the night light-heartedly joking about over-riding personality traits and ended in a tearful appreciation of the young women they are on the way to be.
Don Threeto just started in kindergarten this fall. On her first day home she smiled from each to ear and proclaimed, “I made four friends”. A precious moment wrapped in guilt because I guess she should have more friends at five. She had no idea what their names were but to her it didn’t matter. After a month into the semester we sat with her teacher and listened to how she was organized, obedient, and very friendly with all the other children. She takes her worklist each day and does each task in order. It is a Montessori school so she doesn’t have to follow the order but she does. I was proud to hear how well she was adjusting and I acknowledged that we haven’t spent as much time on pre-school subjects as we should have but she will be just fine. She loves the positive feedback from learning new things.
Stop number two was in Prima’s classroom. We heard the usual report that Prima was doing well and enjoying her work. She has a friend with whom she shares a love of reading and reading and creating stories. Together they decided that they would create a pop-up book and take it to the public library to be published. I was a little touched to hear that she routinely finishes her work and asks the teacher if she can help the younger students. My heart was continuing to melt. Kids are so precious.
I knew that my parenting karma wasn’t good enough for three good reports. Sure enough, Jane has been falling behind in her studies. She is very bright but like her dad, she has trouble focusing on things that don’t interest her. Perfect example: She had a project due on a Friday. The project was to create a model of different landforms and label them. On Thursday night I told her to finish her project and for about two hours we didn’t hear a word from her. Then she came in and presented us a project on wolves. She had pop-up figurines, hand drawn pictures, and fun facts all over a poster board. She researched all of the information on her computer. I asked her, “Cool. When is that project due?” She answered, “Oh it isn’t due. I just like wolves.” Sweet Jesus kid… Come on.
Jane’s teacher also let me know that very often Jane had completed her work but instead of turning it in, she just leaves it at her workspace and does something else. I told the teacher that I felt her pain and would work on things at home to try and get her more responsive.
Then she told me something that choked me up. There is a girl who I will call Amy who has been in Jane’s classes since kindergarten. Amy has a learning disability that has not allowed her to progress mentally beyond drawing pictures and watching cartoons. Jane has always had a soft spot for Amy and I think she could tell Amy was different. Jane befriended and protected Amy in kindergarten. Now in fourth grade, Jane’s teacher told me that part of her distraction has been stopping her work when Amy was allowed to join the classroom. She said that Jane would waste hours of time trying to help Amy draw horses. It was that moment that I knew I was doing okay as a parent.
Life is about taking care of people. Making friends. Fostering relationship. Having patience, and when needed, pouring your energy into lost causes. My kids may not dominate the alphabet or finish their checklists in record time but make no mistake, there is a difference between smart and intelligent. They are driven to make friends, help others, and stand up for the kids who need it. To see them grow from crawling poop machines into strong minded, intelligent young women does my heart good. They teach me how to be a better person every day and it makes me humbled and amazed. My girls rock.
That is pretty fucking special.
If you love your kids and they consistently impress you, this post is for you. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.