Here’s a thought: How I handled a teacher issue


I remember thinking that I
had covered all the bases
to make my young son’s
first school experience
wonderful. This included (with
no apology) trying to manipulate
the system to give my little guy an
advantage. Such as:

  • Sucking up to the teacher, hoping
    my kid would get preferential
    treatment. Why not? It was worth
    a shot.
  • Keeping my fingers crossed that
    the toilet training wouldn’t regress.
  • Handling the crying and the notcrying.
    It broke my heart to leave
    him upset and crying that fi rst day.
    It also broke my heart when, on the
    second day, he couldn’t have cared
    less whether I stayed or left.
  • Volunteering. Let’s be clear –
    that’s all part of the sucking up,
    but it has a payoff for both kids
    and teachers. It demonstrates to
    them that you will be an involved
    and available parent.
  • Establishing new, rigid morning
    routines to jump-start each day.
    “No! You can’t wear those summer
    shorts. And if you won’t fi nish
    your breakfast, you’ll have to go to
    school hungry.”
  • Enjoying bragging rights. “My kid
    can tie his own laces and knows
    his address and phone number.
    He’s way ahead of the other kids.”

So, all was in place to ensure a
healthy, happy school experience.
What could possibly go wrong?

A teacher’s mistake

Months later, I had driven to school
to collect my little guy, but he was
nowhere to be seen. All the kids
were quickly disappearing from the
schoolyard and it was soon empty.

I was a bit anxious but also
annoyed. He had obviously decided
to be a big guy and walk home. I
followed the home route, but he
was nowhere to be seen.

Heart hammering, I returned
to the school. It was winter and
already dark, with school lights
being turned off. I went to the
classroom, which was in darkness.
On to the teacher’s lounge where
I was told his teacher had left for
the day.

Something drove me back to
the schoolroom. I opened the door,
peered into the darkness and said,
“Johnnie?”

A frightened little voice said
“Mommy?” and burst into tears.
“My teacher says I have to stop
talking and sit in the corner until
she says I can go back.”

To react or over-react?

What happened next would set the
tone for the rest of that school year.

My husband wanted to go to
the principal and raise a huge
hullabaloo. My instincts said that
Johnnie would pay dearly if we
played the blame-game.

“Listen,” I said to him, “she’s a nice woman
and didn’t
do it on
purpose.
It was a
mistake.
She needs to know what happened
but let’s reassure her that there will
be no consequences.”

My husband found that less than
satisfactory – he wanted justice!
– but finally calmed down and
conceded.

The big winner was Johnnie. Just
imagine the special attention he
got from his teacher for the rest of
the term. It put my earlier teacher
sucking-up in the shade!

It finally became a win-win for all
of us because, at year’s end, my four-year-old told us that he really, really
loved his teacher and could he give
her a present.

Who could have guessed that
such an unhappy incident could
have such a happy outcome!

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, August/Septemer 2013.

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