Why are parent-teacher interviews so nerve-wracking? I panic every time I have to go to one but especially this week as I would be talking to Middle’s preschool teacher for the very first time. What could possibly go wrong?
But before that it was Eldest’s. In advance of the meeting, his teacher had sent home all his school workbooks. I sat with a cup of tea and dutifully poured over them. In the writing one, there was a note from her stating that Eldest was ‘struggling with letter formation and fine motor skills’. I called him into the kitchen. ”Are you finding writing difficult?” I asked. He looked to the ground, hands in his pockets, then responded ”yes mum. I really don’t like how they are making me hold my pencil”. This is the very first time he has said anything like this to me. In fact, I can’t glean any information from him each day about how he’s fared at school. ”That’s ok son” I replied, ”I will raise that with your teacher when I meet her”.
Whilst waiting for the interview to begin I surveyed all the written work adorning the wall outside his classroom. It became quite clear to me there and then that he has some issues with his handwriting. I braced myself for what lay ahead. His teacher explained that she has added something to his pencil to try and enforce the correct manner of which he should hold it. She also advised that he is self-conscious about this and tries to sneak a normal pencil when she’s not looking. I felt my heart sink. That’s what he was trying to tell me all week. Trying not to burst into tears, I asked was he the only one struggling in this way. She advised that there are others but, she is having to spend one to one time with him to try and get him up to speed. I have never felt more grateful to someone in my life! Having got the main issue out of the way, she went on to say that his maths is excellent and that he is well behaved and quiet in class (what??). She then handed me a booklet of work to complete with him at home. As I strolled out of the school, I began to sob. I just felt so sorry for him. He is obviously so embarrassed that he has to use that pencil when others don’t. I also felt like I had failed him as his mum. I do his homework with him after all and I’ve just been hoping that his effort reflects that of his classmates. You never know if it does until these things and he’s my first one at school. Now the hard work begins. I’ve every intention of doing all within my power to get this resolved. But I know he is trying so hard every day to master it and this makes me beyond proud.
Now onto Middle’s which was an entirely different affair. This one I was dreading for obvious reasons. I haven’t been overly worried about how he is settling in as he bounds in every morning yelling his now customary ”hi guys!” to anyone who will listen. But, I had arrived early to collect him the day before and had watched from the window whilst he ate some ice cream at a table. He wasn’t just eating it but making all these funny faces whilst doing so. There was a little girl beside him who he was seemingly trying to impress with this impromptu show (even though he hates girls). ”Which one is yours?” a fellow mum enquired. ”Um, that one” I sheepishly responded whilst pointing at him. He was also fuming all this week due to falling out with a boy in his class because he ‘hadn’t known what a Yo-Kai is and that’s stupid’ (a Netflix tv show).
His teacher began by informing me that his learning level is excellent and that she isn’t having to help him with anything. He moves freely from one table to another trying different activities and interacting with others. “Even girls?” I enquired. “Oh yes” she responded “he plays with anyone”. So Middle doth protest too much then, as I assumed. She then went on to say that he is very easily led. “There are a few boys who play up and, the second Middle gets around them, he is playing up too” she informed. Well, this was no surprise as that is precisely what happens at home with Eldest. “But the second I voice my displeasure, he swiftly takes himself away and plays with someone else” she added. Thank god he is smart enough to sense the warning signals! She then said something that took me totally by surprise. “Have you had issues with his speech?” she asked. Now, this child, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed, does not shut up! “Um no” I responded. “He was very delayed when it came to talking but now we can’t get him to stop!” I added. She then went on to explain that when she asks him a question he just stares at her blankly and refuses to answer. Odd I thought as I was leaving. Upon returning home, I sought out Middle. “Your teacher says you are amazing and doing really well! I am so proud!” I advised him. He looked completely disinterested. “But, she said that when she asks you questions, you don’t answer even when you know how to” I repeated. He stopped what he was doing and turned to me looking sternly. “It’s just coz I playing and I don’t care. She asks me when I’m busy and that’s a stupid thing to do. So I just not answer Mr T”. Arrgghh give me strength someone!
May the force be with you all for the half-term break. May we stay strong and survive it with all of us still alive and somewhat sane! We can but hope…..