We’re now in day number two of what the kids(and teachers and parents…and everyone)like to call fall break. Fall break is that nice little breather the kids get between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. They certainly look at it as a break; sleep in, watch the tube, read comics, wear your “bedhead” all day, and pretty much just act as if everyday is Saturday morning. But what fall break really is -for those that don’t know- is parent/teacher conference time. It’s that time where we as parents get to go in and get the low down on our kids. How they’re excelling or falling on their face. If they’re behaving or acting like wild monkeys. Who they’re whispering to in the back of the room. You know, getting the scoop that you don’t hear everyday when you ask them how their day was. It’s that time of October when you find out just how great or lousy of a job you’re doing as a parent. In my mind these conferences have never really been about how well the teacher is conveying the information, but how well we’re doing as parents. Have we raised kids that can sit and pay attention? Have we taught them to properly respect their elders and listen attentively? Have we instilled responsibility in them and the drive to achieve? Or did we really muck this thing up called child rearing and raise some sort of demon child that disrupts the class by making fart noises under their armpit? Is our kid the one teaching other kids at recess how to swear like a g*****n sailor? Is the apple of our eye handing out gut punches and wedgies in the bathroom? It can’t be our son or daughter that’s extorting milk money from the small and weak….
No, our kids aren’t doing any of those things. We had our parent/teacher conferences yesterday for all three kids and all three are pretty damn wonderful kids. Of course, we knew that already but it’s nice to be told that once in a while. You know, as a reminder when I’m ready to yell at someone for not putting their shoes away, or leaving the peanut butter out, or getting crumbs in the tub of butter. I realize that all those small, insignificant things are just that: small and insignificant. An 8 year old boy doesn’t have “put shoes away” on the top of his priority list. Nor does a 10 year old girl have “don’t put the milk container with a thimble full of milk back in the fridge” on the top of her priority list. And a 13 year old girl most certainly doesn’t have “fold and put away laundry” at the top of hers. But you know what they do have at the top of their lists? Things like “be kind to others”, “use manners”, “empathy”, “love”, “respect”, “humor”, “sense of irony”, “compassion”, “understanding”, and the biggest one of all(and what is most needed to survive in our household)”a great understanding of sarcasm”…
Without that last one those poor kids would’ve never had a chance in our house. Not a chance. So yesterday was a pretty great moment for my wife and I. It solidifies what we assumed(since none of our kids are burying dead animals in the backyard or talking to their imaginary friend Beelzebub), that we’re doing a pretty good job of raising our kids. Those three little kids that used to love scary stories before bed, trips to the zoo, and hitting Dunkin Donuts in downtown Indianapolis(they still love that one)have made us proud, and full of love for who they’ve become and who they are in the process of becoming.
To all those naysayers that guffawed at the thought of my 2 year old daughter watching The Simpsons and Futurama, listening to the Flaming Lips and Wilco at 4 years old, and reading Harry Potter by the time she was 8 years old, thanks for the concern but we’re doing just fine. At least, now at 13 years old that’s what her Algebra II Honors teacher told us.
I know, I’m gloating.