Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Hurt My Kid and I'm Coming After You

Last week I picked out the perfect outfit. I twisted (then re-twisted) my hair and worked to create a make-up look that was 2 parts “I’m a fun girl” and 1 part “I know how to handle business.” I practiced introducing myself and scanned the first page of the newspaper for topical humor (since most of my puns typically revolve around poop or Sesame Street). I wasn’t headed out for a blind date though. I was going to meet my kid’s teacher.

Around these parts, that’s a big damn deal. It’s so important for me to set the right tone. Here’s this other adult charged with nurturing and caring for my child for the next 9 months, it’s serious business and I don't  take it lightly. I looked forward to our initial interaction but my nerves were still wracked. It's hard to figure out a way  to convey the perfect mix of “Hey we’re in this together,” and “If you fuck her up…I fuck YOU up.” A fine line, ya know.

See, my mom always had great relationships with my teachers. I believe they genuinely liked her, a retired administrator herself. They were able to share a common bond forged from a shared educational background. They spoke the same language and throughout elementary school it was not uncommon for Parent/Teacher conferences to last long past their allotted time because my mom was sharing her own anecdote regarding unruly students or a quirky principal. She was the life of the Teacher’s Lounge.
This is one of her more subtle looks.

And it’s with that legacy in mind that I prepared to make my mark on my children’s educators. Here I was entrusting precious cargo to a complete stranger who had to have eyes on 20 other kids at the same time and can’t do it with a cocktail in hand.  It’s a pretty heavy responsibility and I needed to know they’re up to the task.

That’s why I consider my yearly appraisal of my child’s newest teacher akin to the only other thing that has the potential to be just as awkward and telling:  a date.  There are very few situations that have the likelihood to return such extreme gains or losses the way love and matters of children do. Think about it, even asking some of the same questions may get you a match made in heaven.

Come here often?
What’s this teacher’s background? Are they invested in the school, interested in sticking around for a while and making memories? Or maybe they’re some bright-eyed Teach for America hipsters in town to do some good in the ‘hood and then float off to the next urban oasis. Experience and intent matter; see where the instructor’s head is.

What are you in to?
What’s your teaching style? Will you be drilling my kid’s times tables in her head while rapping her knuckles with a ruler? Or maybe meditating on photosynthesis while working on your Downward Facing Dog all zen-like and stuff. Particular learning styles match better with complementary teachers, this is a great way to see the type of year your little one might be in for. Too strict and nobody’s happy, too free and…well, we all know what happens when kids are left in charge.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Ogletree

Have you ever been arrested?
And I don’t mean for fun stuff like public intoxication, either. I want to know the names and numbers of all your cellmates ASAP. This is not a drill.

Would you like to hang out again?
What’s the expectation for parent interaction? Will I be receiving an invite to every class presentation or do I need to make a small donation so that the Room Mom can pick up my slack until the end of the year? How much input do you need from me to be at your very best for my child?

How did your last relationship(s) end?
Alright so maybe that’s not an actual first date question, but it’s important. And while it may be easy to cyber stalk a potential new mate by cross-referencing their Friends List with their LinkedIn profile and looking up old high school friends based on facial recognition through Instagram tags…or, I mean, that’s what I’ve heard psycho stalker girls do, at least…it’s much easier to just talk to some of the other parents at the school. No one will be liked by everyone but the good should outweigh the bad, so it’s worth your time to do some digging.

And finally, will I be seeing you naked?
This isn’t how your dates end? Oh well, maybe it’s just me. Anyway, if the answer to this query from your son’s 4th grade science teacher is anything other than shock and confusion, run like the wind. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

And there you have it. It’s really all up to you. You can make a love connection or end up in divorce court, but you’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there. And hell, maybe I've missed a few. What are some of the things you look for in a (educational) partner?

Best of luck for an awesome school year for your little ones!


  1. I showed Chloe her picture and her response, "Did YOU do that or did I do that, mama?!"
    Her response to your mom's picture, "Oh no, that's worse than mine."
    Loved this post!

    1. Lmao, yeah, tell her Ashton's grandma doesn't get to play in paint anymore either.

  2. You have captured the sentiments of many.

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Playground rules apply: Speak the way you'd like to be spoken to and if you don't play nice, I'm kicking you off my monkey bars.