Thursday, March 10, 2016

Today was not a good school day for my kids.  I picked my daughter up, only to be greeted by an incident report sharing that she pinched two boys to try to prevent them from going down the slide.  She was hysterically crying as we walked to meet my son at the bus.  He immediately inquired as to what was wrong before looking at me with his big, soulful eyes, and murmured, "I hate to tell you this, but I had a day kind of like her's."  He told a friend he couldn't trust him because he was lying too much, only to have the friend refuse to speak to him for the remainder of the day.  My son went on to say that he was crying, so the teacher spoke to him and then the friend, but that only made things worse.

My heart, as you may imagine, was squeezed pretty tight.  Disappointment in my daughter and compassion for my son overwhelmed me.  As a mom, I wanted to immediately text the moms of my daughter's friends and apologize.  I then wanted to call the mother of my son's friend and have a heart to heart.  But, it's at times like these I'm especially glad I'm a teacher.  I know the greatest lessons I can give my kids come when I give them the space and support to learn to work things out on their own.  The kids I see struggle the most in middle school are those whose parents are always involved in every incident.  I tell my students I don't want to hear from their parents about why they couldn't do their homework.  Instead, I want them to be responsible enough to have a discussion with me -- and accept the consequences.  Development of character and an attitude of responsibility and ownership start at such a young age.

So, instead of my manic texts and phone calls, my daughter is sitting next to me, writing apology notes, and my son and I have role-played how he might initiate a conversation with his friend tomorrow.  I can't say I'm sitting easy, but I know this feeling of discomfort is better experienced with these small kid problems than in the future with big kid issues.  Good reminder, too, that what my students bring with them as they walk through my classroom door each day is far weightier than their homework.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

My kindergartner loves to dance.  I mean, she truly loves to dance.  She twirls her way through life.  If it wasn't a passion for her, there's no way I'd suffer through recital week.  That week, so considerately scheduled for the second week of June (otherwise known as the week that, quite surely, is a teacher's breaking point), consists of nightly 4.5 hour dress rehearsals.  Cherubs must arrive at 4 (because hey, that's easy for working parents!) in full make-up (yes, my five-year-old has the option of placing her very own Mary Kay order), without a hair out of place in their perfectly placed buns (do you know what it's like for this wash and go mom to have to watch videos supplied by the dancing school on perfect bun placement?!?).  Then, that last weekend of the school year, that weekend that should be consumed with entering students' final grades, is, instead, spent nudging my husband to keep him awake as we watch the 3.5 hour recital, only to have my seven year old sit in tears because, five minutes after intermission, right before my daughter is about to get on stage for her two minute debut (yes, two minutes out of that 3.5 hour recital), he simply has to go to the bathroom.  It's divine.

But, in all seriousness, my daughter loves to dance.  And so I persevere.  Once a week I rush out of school, my "bag of guilt" overflowing, pick up my daughter, meet my son at the bus, and whisk her away to dance class.  I sit for an hour every Tuesday, giving my son glares of death as he attempts to mentally destroy me, overhearing moms debate whether or not to continue volunteering in the school because, with half day kindergarten and volunteering, they're only left with two hours of "me time."

Today though. . . . Today was different.  Today when I stumbled into her after care program, not a hair in place, dance bag falling off my shoulder, my daughter greeted me by saying, "Mommy, can I skip dance class today?  I really want to go home and read my book."  Have sweeter words ever been spoken?  And for half a second, I struggled with my decision.  A commitment is a commitment.  Our word has value.

But, dear reader, mama had a book she wanted to go read, too.  And heck, my kindergartner loves to read!!!