Parents Say the Darndest Things

Perhaps we look stupid, but you wouldn’t believe the crap parents throw at teachers sometimes. I mean, we spend eight hours a day with your kid…remember us? Hi, we’re not morons. While I am all for the school of thought which believes that parents know their children best…I just think that sometimes, parents need to admit what they really know instead of giving us some bullshit Jekyll and Hyde story. If I hear “Oh my, he never does that at hooooome….(insert doe-eyed expression here)” one more time, I may just give up.

Do you think we are out to get your kids? To make up vicious lies that hold them back in life? Because that’s not why I got into teaching….however, I also did not choose this profession to deal with the denial of parents and the ridiculous b.s. that they seem to sling at us with increasing regularity.

Some examples….

I approached a parent earlier in the year about her son’s reading level. I am very concerned because he is reading almost an entire year below grade level. While he is making progress, and hopefully he will continue to, boyfriend would need to make TWO YEARS worth of progress to truly be ready for the next grade.

Me: So, we need to talk about reading…
Parent: Don’t even start that with me again this year.
Me: You’ve heard this before from another teacher?
Parent: Yea, but AT HOME, he’s reading Harry Potter books by himself.
Me: Well, it’s great that you have books at home for him to enjoy, but here at school, it appears that he’s only ready for books with eight to ten words of text on a page…so I’m not sure Harry Potter is the best choice.
Parent: Well he reads it.
Me: All right, but then maybe you can see why I am confused that here at school, he really struggles with more complicated text…
Parent: That’s your problem, not mine.

Ahhhh, well played, my friend, played. I have nothing to say to that, because it is just totally stupid. Stupid. She might as well have a neon sign over her head saying “Closed for the evening” because nothing I’m going to say is going to get through.

Another example….

One child in my class has been biting other children at recess. BITING. I know, ridiculous, right? Even though I am not present at recess (and a big halleluja for that because recess duty might just push me over the edge…), I need to deal because I am a grown up. Unfortunatley, all of us do not share that same philosophy because when I approached the parent to discuss this issue, she responded with, “Well, what did YOU do to provoke him to bite?”

Um, what? It’s MY fault that YOUR child is biting OTHER CHILDREN at recess when I’m not even there?!?!? You’re not even going to try to blame the other children? You’re going to go straight to blaming me….dude. I can only imagine how you value my opinions on other issues. It’s all I can do to not look right back at her and say, “Thanks…you’re right. It must be me. How silly of me to even waste your time. I apologize. GOOD LUCK WHEN HE’S 15, YOU IDIOT! Have a lovely day.”

Unfortunately, sometimes our little friends end up not getting help when they need it the most because of the issues their parents have with asking for help in the first place.

My Super Colleague has a student in her class who never speaks. Never. Not even to say his name. He responds with grunts and nods or whatever, but no talking. And although silence can be golden in the classroom, clearly something is wrong.

We are in my classroom one day after school when the parent of this child walks by. My Super Colleague has been trying to talk to her for WEEKS.

Super Colleague: I’m really worried about our friend. He isn’t talking in class. Have you noticed any thing at home?
Parent: What? Really? No…I don’t think so.
Super Colleague: Well, he as other children ask for him when he needs to use the bathroom, and hasn’t truly spoken to anyone this year that I know of.
Parent: I don’t know what you’re talking about. At home, he’s a chatterbox. Last night we were debating about politics. He likes Obama.

Um, what? You want us to believe that your child, who has never uttered a word in school, is suddenly debating about who has the better foreign policy? Riiiiiight.

As my former social studies teacher used to say, “Denial isn’t only river in Egypt.” I’m not saying it’s easy to admit when your child has a problem, large or small, but when a kid needs help, it’s time to be the grownup and deal. One of the biggest lessons I try to teach my students is that it is OK to not be good at something and even downright BRILLIANT to know when to ask for help.

Maybe I should invite the parents to sit in on our little talks too.

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