Flapping Seal Flippers by childgrower A. Woz.

feet on sand scott buried“Anger is fear turned outward.” anonymous.

I was standing at the sidewalk waiting for my three kids to come out of the school building so we could take quick trip to the store and get a winter coat and a hat for my daughter.  While waiting, I got into a conversation with another parent about some issues that are making her very unhappy. She was talking a mile a minute, sort of loudly and gesturing like the flapping front flippers of a seal after performing a behavior worthy of a few raw fish.

I wanted to duck out-of-the-way of the next act but she honestly wouldn’t take a breath.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like people flock to me as a problem solver. These flip flappers are mostly just parents who are new to the whole idea of letting another adult teach their children. The school system is all new territory full of mean teachers like they had when they were kids, I suppose.

For some of the parents, the school day kind of robs them of their place in their child’s life. As they adjust to the emptiness of not being present for every accomplishment, they fill the void while separated from their child by critically assessing all the people and places that do have Susie’s ear.

Parents naturally want their children to get the best education they can and add an unreasonable expectation that their kid will be happy while they are getting it.

We didn’t love every minute of school, but we think our kids will?

Yes! Parents like me want to see smiling faces, hear reports about loving the latest math test.  When my child comes out of the brick building at the end of the day, I wan to peer inside his head and see the needle pointing at the  “advanced learning happened today” on the learning gauge.

I also seem to have an invisible sign on my forehead that invites people to just open up and let ‘er rip.

The gymnasium is so small, kids need to run.

The teacher is so unorganized, the kids need structure.

The day is so structured the kids need free time to be kids.

The fundraising is out of control  and they should just stop buying so many paperclips and funnel that money to a better playground.

I ws the same, I think.  A friend of mine with a high schooler remarked that his youngest who is 3rd grade has introduced him to a whole different set of parents. They are all younger, (what! no grey hairs of wisdom and experience?)  and they are also just as vocal if not more worried than we were at that point in our lives.

They are afraid of the unknown and they don’t hesitate to admit it. School sidewalks are full of moms and dads who take parenting seriously enough to worry about controlling every aspect of their child’s environment and trying to create a fairytale story of fluffy, happy experiences 24/7. Homework should be fun! Learning fractions should be fun!

I know that if there is a way to invent a feelings thermometer to measure the degree of happiness for each school age kid, I could sell a dozen a day to parents who are just like I once was-  a happy face always stands for an A+, and a frowny Mr. Poison face means school is a bad place.

As a new elementary school parent, I had not been given a reason to trust the people who were going to see my child for more hours in a day than I would.   I wanted the teacher to see my child’s special talents, to look out for him,  and worry along with me – would my child be brilliant? would he handle the learning environment? would he be bullied? would he learn to love letters enough to get him through a lifetime of reading?

Watching through the classroom door I was angry because I was afraid for my child’s future, maybe all parents are.

The advice I got from the school principal came in the form of an offer.  He told me, “Get to know us.  We love children and you’ll find that we always do our very best. ”

Flapping flippers and all, I stopped watching the playground, and stopped worrying out loud to anyone who would listen.  Some say,  we always find the time to do the things that really matter-  so,  I stopped spying through the classroom door and stepped inside to volunteer.

###by childgrower A. Woz.

A revised version of this post appeared in the March 2010 John Rosemond Traditional Parenting Newsletter.

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One Response

  1. […] in curriculum and classroom management, more time for learning AND playing, smaller class sizes and parental engagement in the operations of the […]

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