I was always terrified when it came to parent- teacher meetings; I’m not sure why as I was smart-ish and a bit of a lick. My Mam held it over us for weeks and we would be on our best behaviour in school in the weeks leading up to it.
In primary school I had Stockholm Syndrome like most of the kids of the ’80s. This was a time when beatings were outlawed and replaced with psychological torture. Our teacher was old school gaeltacht and class often resembled a cult assembly where upon a question being asked we would all wave our right arms and chant teacher, teacher, teach, teach. tch, ch, ch feverishly until picked. Sometimes I got so caught up in the drama that I didn’t even know the answer. My Mam always came home satisfied from the meetings although was told in every meeting from 1980 to 1993 that I should apply myself to the subjects I disliked (ie. Irish and Maths) as much as the ones I liked. I have carried this trait up to now and if I don’t like it (exercise, peppers, Tobey Maguire, the Daily Mail) I steer clear.
My sister on the other hand was told that she should consider a career with old people or children (this was in primary… she’s now a fab hairdresser). It’s nice to have your options that limited at 7… must take some of the pressure off.
Secondary school started out great and my Mam was thrilled in first year to get glowing reports from my history teacher (made sweeter as she was a childhood neighbour of my hers), english and art. My home economics teacher despaired at my culinary disasters and inability to thread a sewing machine (it’s insanely difficult). My Mam laughed at her and said “my Aisling (she says this a lot, it’s a running joke with my husband) is a very intelligent girl and won’t need to learn to cook and sew.”
It’s the only bloody subject that would be useful in my life right now and I often take out my inter cert book and try to make out recipes beneath the INXS doodles
Second year the shit hit the fan and I had let everything slide. I’d fallen in with a bad crowd (there was an incident with a free gaff alcohol and an intercepted phone call)… we’re still friends today and I was always giddy, still am. My Mam was horrified to be told I was doing so badly and asked every teacher to put me at a desk up the front on my own. I spent all of second year under the nose of the teachers and a little proud of my bad girl status. The rest of the parent teacher meetings went well and my Mam was smug that she had nixed my little coup. She still laments that she took her eye off the ball when I decided to take a year out before pursuing a Hdip or a masters almost 20 years ago and ended up working in Pizza Hut for 4 years. I’m still deciding…it’s not something you’d want to rush into.
Last week I attended my 2 oldest boys parent teacher meetings and it went better than expected. Conall has no respect for authority at all and I normally leave his meeting feeling like shite. Teachers are sooo nice now and they focused on his positive points… his wit was pointed out a few times and his resource teacher said she loves discussing politics with him and as I left she said “you should be proud, you’ve done a great job” and I had to tell her to stop talking immediately as I could feel an ugly cry-face coming on.
Koray’s teacher was shocked by his quietness as she had taught Conall a few years before and I told her to enjoy it as boy number 3 is the loudest and he’ll be with her in 2 years. Anyway Koray is mensa material and stunningly gorgeous (reading between the lines) and I a left a happy mammy. My neglected little middle child is quietly exceptional in the shade of Conall’s chattering and Rian’s destructive capabilities.
Poor Conall in the meantime had tied himself in knots with anxiety over the whole thing and I returned to see him winding down from a meltdown that had my Dad and my husband exhausted and a little upset themselves. I sorted him out with toast (my kid) and a flamboyant recall of my meeting with his teacher where in my version she did a song and dance about her love for Conall. He was relieved and I realised that for all his bravado he still needs some confidence building. Koray meanwhile smiled shyly when I told him what his teacher had said and then punched the air and said “I’m going to cry with happiness”. What a strange relationship the teacher/ child one is. Why is it that we all care so much what they think of us? I compliment the shit out of my kids… is that not enough.. are we all still searching for outside validation? A validation on our intelligence? I’m glad that they care and as their overlord, I will use this against them as I have begun to use Santa and as far as they are concerned, I have both on speed-dial.