It’s that time of year again. The morning air begins to feel crisp with the coolness of fall. The lights of the football stadium shine like a beacon on Friday nights. Pumpkins start appearing on porches.
And of course, one day, you open your child’s backpack, and there it is. The scheduled time for your parent-teacher conference. Oh, the excitement. Time to squeeze into tiny children’s desks, sit across from the smiling teacher. You know, the one who has secretly already judged your parenting skills?
I’ve become somewhat of an expert in these, with one child completely through elementary school, and a second getting there. Oh please Lord, let him be getting there. Plus, in another year, I will be the one on the teacher side of the desk, and I’ve already had some of the top-secret teacher language classes.
So here, in plain English, is a simple teacher-to-parent translator for some of the common things you might hear.
1. “Your child is certainly very high-spirited!” Your child behaves like a Chihuahua whose morning breakfast routine consists of drinking an entire case of Red Bull and then gobbling down a bowl of M&Ms. Seriously. I can’t mention ADD or medication, because that counts as a diagnosis and then the district would be on the hook for your kids’ treatment, but get some drugs.
2. “He/She does seem to have some focus problems.” Seriously. Ritalin, Concentra? Ever considered them? Can you sign this waiver saying it’s OK for me to duct tape your child to the chair? Please?
3. “Tell me about your morning routine at home.” Are you guys eating crack for breakfast or what? My initial thought was that your child was being raised by wolves, but now that I see you’re human, I’m guessing illegal drugs may be the issue.
4. “Let’s go over some test scores.” Look, I wish I could get to know your child as an individual and focus on his or her specific talents and dreams. But let’s face it, because of this moronic ” No Child Left Behind” crap, at the end of the day, the issue that really matters is “Will your child pass the standardized test?”
5. ”We are not teaching to the test.” Well, not the actual test, since the state testing board keeps those pretty secure. But we will be doing so many practice benchmarks that your child will go to sleep dreaming of filling in circles. When you go out for donuts, he will stuff his napkin in the center hole.
6. “Your child is certainly socially advanced.” You’re aware that your kid’s in a gang, right? Those bandanas are not for “Cowboy Day.”
7. “Your child certainly has an advanced vocabulary.” Not all children can conjugate the F-word into all its various verb forms. The added use of non-verbal hand motions to make meaning clear is also impressive.
8. “Little XXXX is one of the reasons I am thankful to be a teacher.” Every day, when he gets on the bus and drives home, I fall to my knees praising Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha that I have made it through another day and get 3 months off in the summer. Have a nice day.”