*Image: Wade and his rock star preschool teacher
Let me preface this by saying, I’m no expert on parent-teacher relationships or on discipline. My son is 2 and just finished his first year of pre-school. I had to text his teacher one Sunday afternoon when he wouldn’t stop standing on the arm of a chair to ask her how to do a timeout. Talk about a rookie.
But when I came across this blog (lovewhatmatters.com) about a middle school teacher in South Carolina lamenting that parents are “bizarrely lenient” on their kids when it comes to discipline, I had to read it.
No way would it ever apply to me, would it?
This teacher, Erin Axson, had just finished the school year and wrote about feeling utterly exhausted from trying to discipline her students without the support or cooperation of the parents. She was putting all her energy into butting heads with parents.
“Lately, it seems that many parents have adopted a bizarrely lenient attitude toward disciplining children as well as bending over backwards to accommodate their children’s every demand,” she wrote.
That’s not ever going to be me, right? I believe in discipline. My parents were strict. My brothers and sister and I were expected to be respectful of our teachers and to make good grades. Surely I would pass that mindset on to my boys – once I figured out how the heck to administer a timeout.
But then I read this part: “When I come to you with something your child has done wrong at school; your defenses immediately go up. Somehow it has turned into me pointing the finger at you, whispering behind your back that you are a bad mom.”
My stomach sank….uh oh….because I remembered the day I picked Wade up from pre-school and one of his teacher’s assistants suggested I keep an eye on a boo-boo he had on his arm. She said I should watch for redness on the periphery as a sign of potential infection.
Totally and utterly harmless, right? Well, for some reason my first reaction was to feel like she was insinuating that I hadn’t been keeping an eye on Wade’s boo-boo.
That reason was no doubt my insecurity talking, that as a mother of three now – I have twin sons who are 8 months old – I’m not keeping as close an eye on any of them now as I did when it was just Wade.
But truth be told, Wade scraped his arm when it was just the two of us out with some friends on a lunch playdate. And of course, I know that nobody can watch three kids – or one – every split second of the day or come close to preventing every fall, scrape, or infection. So why the heck wasn’t my first reaction to take the assistant teacher’s suggestion for what it was – sound advice from somebody who cares about my son?
I don’t think I said anything to her to give away how I felt that day – gosh, let’s hope not – but I realize that if I’m getting defensive about a boo-boo, how am I going to react when Wade actually gets “in trouble” at school. And as much as I might want to kid myself, it’s going to happen.
I tell myself I won’t ever be one of those parents who marches into a principal’s office when her son gets a 79 on a test, to complain about a teacher. I’m the one who used to sit in the stands at high school sporting events as a young sportswriter rolling my eyes when parents yelled at coaches and officials. It was awful. No way would that ever be me.
But I’m a parent now, see. And I realize that I’m capable of acting in ways I never thought was possible. Going a little crazy when I feel like my child is being short-changed in some way is no longer out of the realm of possibility. So let’s just call this teacher’s blog what I think it is and should be, at least in the case of this new mom: some preventative medicine and a good cautionary tale.