Hello, readers! Today I’m tackling a hairy parenting topic known as letting our kids grow up and find their way. I feel this is necessary after I witnessed a meet and greet with a new teacher this week that can only be described as a well intentioned assembly that went off the rails. Yes, it’s late in the school year. Yes, our school had to replace one of their teachers (who I previously wrote about here). Yes, we can do this.
If you don’t want to click the link for the backstory, here’s a brief synopsis of the issue. New teacher acts inappropriately many times. New teacher enjoys a great deal of “bathroom/locker room humor” with 10-14 year olds. Kids, of course, love said teacher because he acts like a peer and not an authoritative, adult teacher. Teacher not a good fit and leaves with seven weeks to go in the school year. I don’t know all the whats and whys behind the leaving but I trust the school did what was appropriate. Yesterday we got to meet his replacement, a highly qualified individual with a doctorate, and from what I could tell from his message to parents, many years experience with a variety of grade levels and sound teaching practices.
I don’t want to be disrespectful to the dissenting parents because I’m sure they come from an authentic place, motivated by nothing but pure love for their children and all the hopes for their successful completion of the school year. This is middle school, mind you, an important transitional period for our kids. I can attest to how painful this school year has been for us in dealing with peer relations, changing hormones and hearing on a nearly bi-weekly basis from one teacher or another about disruptive behavior being displayed by our beloved son. Whether we survive the year is yet to be seen.
However, I was taken aback by how some parent’s interpretation of being involved in their child’s schooling, rises to a whole new level. Some questions being lobbed. How come we didn’t get more notice there will be a test tomorrow? How can I help him/her study for this test with so little notice? Will you grade this test on a curve? I don’t have time to help him/her with the project you assigned. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s my goal NOT to be involved with helping my son with these things. For starters, I don’t understand much of what it he is learning because I already did all this myself, without parental intervention many, many years ago. I do not want to do it again. If he doesn’t understand the material, he needs to speak with his teacher, not with his father or me.
The most guidance my son needs from me right now is navigating the trickiness of becoming a teenager. He is a major over-reactor and this scene from Father of the Bride always comes to mind for me when he acts out in an over-the-top way.
Basically, after he flips out over hot dog buns, George Banks sheepishly admits to coming from a long line of over-reactors. So too, does my son?
You know what is needed in times like these? Patience. Humor. Trust. A trust that we’ll all survive this. A trust that we’re doing okay if we’re not hovering over every move our kids make at home and at school. A trust that just like us, our kids will survive this year and the many to come just fine. I don’t want to get too involved but I want him to know he can always talk to us about anything, big or small. I will not solve his problems for him but I can share my experience in similar situations. One of his teachers recommended a book to us called The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey, and it reinforces the essentialness of failure in our kids growing up years so they can learn to make their own way. I’ll be giving it a read soon. I am far from doing this perfectly by I’ll keep trying to give my kid wings.
What’s your take? Are we giving our kids enough room to grow?