School just ended in the great state of Utah where I live, and where my kids attend our neighborhood public school.
As a mother, I personally am very proud of myself for surviving the last few weeks of school. Between the field days and the school performances and the class parties and the field trips and all the whatnot…let’s just say that if I were a drinking woman I would have been hitting the bottle hard. Alas, I am not, unless you count the occasionally sugar-free RedBull but that’s neither here nor there.
What I do want to talk about starts with teacher assignments and a conversation I had with my neighbors a few days ago.
My son came home the last day of school with a card notifying us who his teacher would be next year, which ended up being the topic of conversation buzzing around the neighborhood for a few days after. Our school is unique in that a few weeks before the end of the year they send home a form asking if there are any needs they should consider for the next year, any kids or staff your child might have a potential problem with, and anything else they should know about when considering classroom placement.
I heard from more than one parent who had certain prejudices, preferences and/or pretty deep opinions about which teacher their child should get for the next year, which surprised me for some stupid reason. I can only imagine the pile of extra work this added onto the administration when it came to sorting out the parental preferences of over 700 kids that attend our school.
I didn’t turn the form in, I figured luck of the draw was good enough and that I’d been a familiar enough presence in the school thanks to time served on the PTA and room mom tasks, that they’d put my kids where they would fit in just fine. They’re both fairly easy going kids who get along with most everyone anyway, so I knew they’d be cool wherever.
*Let me go ahead and add my disclaimer before the haters start trolling: I realize this is not the case for every child. Bullies are a thing, the occasional bad teacher does exist, learning styles are different, so on and so forth.
I get it.
I’m not saying don’t advocate for your child.
I am saying we all need to learn how to chill a bit when it comes to stuff like having an opinion about which teacher your kid gets and also micromanaging every other aspect of our kids’ childhood experiences. I realize this is some kind of white suburban privilege stuff I’m spouting off here but bear with, this is my life right now.
The thing is, for the most part we don’t get to go through life picking and choosing the people we interact with on a daily basis. It’s a fact, you will not make nice with everyone all the time. You will have teammates, friends, co-workers, and even (especially) family members that drive you up the wall.
Learning how to deal with different people and different personalities is a skill set I want my kids to have and start developing at a young age, even 2nd grade and kindergarten. It’s part of learning how to be a functional human and I’m all for that. Realizing that you are not that different from everyone else around you is another important item on the list of things I’d like to impart upon my children.
Each child is unique and truly special for sure. But chances are, you’re not raising the next Bill Gates or Serena Williams. I mean that would be hella cool if they end up winning the French Open or turning themselves into billionaire nerd philanthropists, but I’d like to think I’d be equally proud and pleased if my kids can just manage to grow up and be good, kind people who hopefully go to college and don’t spend the rest of their lives in my basement playing video games, or making meth, you know? JUST SAY NO TO METH, KIDS!
Disappointments and difficult people will find you anywhere. The best thing we can do for our kids is to back off and let them lead the way on their own path.
Be a safe place to land and a solid support, they’re gonna do great!