Tuesday, March 21, 2006

On Banana Bread and Perfection

I had my first frustrated parent situation yesterday. Her student came home thinking that I had given an assignment to the class that required social scrutiny. Here's to the parent that believes their student before giving the benefit of the doubt to the teacher (seriously.)
She wrote me a mean letter and dropped it off in my classroom. I was so shocked. Mostly because this letter arrived weeks after a classroom discussion, where there was NO such required challenge, had taken place. I had never met this mother! No kind words were offered such as, "Thanks for all you do for my student" or "I am sure this must be a misunderstanding" or "Not only are you a fine teacher, my daughter just loves your perm." Suddenly, I was this far away from being nabbed by the ACLU, my good name to be destroyed from off this planet, and beyond.
I ignored the letter and a few days the parent was at my classroom door demanding a meeting. Reluctantly I set one up, which occurred yesterday. Three minutes before we were to meet, I could see her standing by my door. I was in the middle of teaching my first graders, and praying under my breath that they wouldn't start trying to eat each other, which is a common occurrence lately since I had to explain cannibalism. I say I had to because we were reading a Roald Dahl poem where he mentions that someone ate Phoebe (not my niece...) Ever since then, they have been obsessed about eating each other and talking about pirates. Ahoy!
When my class was over, this parent came in and we sat down, eye-to-eye. Before I knew it, my mouth was open and I could hear myself spouting out all sorts of crap. I was explaining my insecurities, joys and fears to this woman. Words were just coming out of me! I think I mentioned my latest ear infection and what it's like every month when I am not pregnant. Blah, blah, blarney.
And as I spewed, this mom became like my long lost soul mate. She empathized with me every step of the way, even told me stories of the four long years it took her to get pregnant with her first. Home schooling, public schooling, sociality of certain students, the staff, the school spelling bee, my insignificant stage-of-a-classroom, we covered it all!
By the time I finally mentioned the incident this mother was coming to seek clarity on, we were the best of friends. She laughed with me and saw what a "gorgeous mistake" (Sinead) it had become. Kind words were offered and I felt like I wasn't a louse of a teacher with an impending law suit.
As we finished talking, she produced a small loaf of freshly baked banana bread out of her coat pocket. "This is for you" she said. Before I could give her my thanks and tell her how much I adore banana bread (even better with walnuts!) and ask when we could go rollerskating together sometime, she was out the door.
Wait, I thought, I want a hug (not seriously.)
I hope this mother left yesterday feeling a bit more secure. For 20 minutes a day her student isn't with a perfect teacher, just a human, with a perm, and a beating heart.