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Mastering Parent Teacher Night

Mastering Parent Teacher Night

Find out who the best child in the class is, arrive early and simply tell the teacher you are that child’s parents.

by

Isn’t it funny looking back through life’s rear view mirror and remembering all those interesting situations we found ourselves in as children? Remember the salt-sugar mix-up situation, or seeing your parent’s faces when they came home from a parent-teacher meeting? Well okay, I guess it wasn’t funny at the time. Come to think of it, neither is it funny now as I find myself sitting on one of those little chairs, staring up in terror at my kid’s teacher.

What do you do when a kid misbehaves at homeschool; call yourself?

I often wondered if it might pay to homeschool the kids to avoid this trauma, but some inner instinct tells me that I’m not teacher material. I don’t even understand how homeschooling works.

What do you do when a kid misbehaves at homeschool; call yourself? Send your spouse a note to sign? Send the child home with a warning not to come back home until the attitude does an about-face? What do you do for parent-teacher meetings?

Mother Teacher: “So how is my darling son doing in homeschool this year?”

Teacher Mother: “Darling? You said darling? Did we give birth to the same child?”

Father Husband: “Are you talking to yourself in the mirror? You're not going to bombard me with those notes again, are you?”

For parents who send their kids to school, it seems that parent-teacher meetings are unavoidable. So are the parent-child meetings that come afterwards. This is referred to as “facing your demons.”

Looking back, my wife and I must have attended a good half-a-million of these meetings, if you count the ten-thousand or so times we were summoned to the principal’s office for “special consultations.” And I thought I was finished being summoned to the principal’s office when I completed graduate school. If you include the special phone calls we received, we were way off the grid. Fortunately, they didn’t do email, sms, WhatsApp or WhatsEver in those days. I seriously do not know how the teachers had time for any other children, considering the personal attention they gave mine. Sometimes we didn't even bother going home after a meeting; it didn’t pay. We’d just camp out in the schoolyard and wait for the next summons.

From what I remember, most of my kid's teachers said more or less the same thing. “If only your child would try he/she could do so well,” or "Dreaming and learning don't go together too well, but your child is very sweet.” It reminds me of the reports my parents used to receive about me, except for the sweet part.

I have the feeling that even if each one of my children would make it through college, graduate school, medical school, nuclear scientist school, chief rabbi school and super hero school, their teachers would say, “Yes, I know your child conducted the first brain transplant for his class project while saving the planet from certain destruction by the forces of evil in between giving Torah classes.” Sigh, “But if only he would try ... But he’s so sweet.”

I won’t say that I particularly miss those meetings now that all my children are out of school, but I sure miss those delicious sandwich cookies they served. I know I shouldn't eat them, but they're so sweet!

For parents worried about the report they’ll receive about a child, take it from a pro. There is a very simple way to get a good report. Find out who the best child in the class is, arrive early and simply tell the teacher you are that child’s parents. Right after the meeting, hightail it outta there.

“You are Li Ming’s parents? I’m so glad to finally meet you Mr. and Mrs. Wong. Funny, you don't look Asian. I’d say you have more of a Jewish European look if you knows what I mean."

"I know. It's been a long day and we're pretty wiped. We look much more Asian in the morning."

"Mr. & Mrs. Wong, your daughter is simply the best student I’ve ever had.”

"Thank you. We’re very proud of her. Please call me Ho Su, and my wife is How So.”

“You should be proud Ho Su and How So. Look at her science project! It’s amazing!”

Ho Su: “Wow, I see. You see How So?"

Teacher: “Oh, I love the sound of Chinese.”

If you don't get there early, you’re on your own.

“Isn’t there anything our child excels at?”

“Well, she does have genuine athletic prowess. She is always the first out of the classroom at recess time no matter where she’s seated. And she did achieve the highest number of missed days in the class.”

"What about latenesses?"

"Sorry, she only came in second."

Not long ago, my wife and I attended our very last parent-teacher meeting before our youngest daughter graduated her religious Jewish high school. The following is almost a direct quote.

"Your daughter is so wonderful and she’s doing so well in her studies and she scored a 99 in her last test and she helps other students and I can depend on her and she has such good middos (character traits) and she's so beautiful and energetic (shadchans out there, please take note) and she will go far in life and ...”

"Excuse me, ma’am" I said, interrupting the teacher with my “If you recall, we’ve held several in-depth discussions about this particular child” look, my eyebrows raised in surprise. "We are Shani* Bodenheim's parents. Remember? Shani?" I said, tucking my chin into my chest and raising my eyebrows even higher. She must have thought we were Li Ming’s parents.

"No, she really is great. She's come such a long way," the teacher responded, (shadchans keep writing).

That's my girl! Takes after her Dad! (Stop writing shadchans.)

“And she’s so sweet!” (Too late Shadchans, she’s spoken for!)

* Name has been changed ever so slightly.

February 4, 2017

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