My daughters received their report cards earlier this week. Today was the DAY to meet with their teachers and talk about their progress or lack of progress, strengths and weaknesses.
When the notice came for me to schedule an appointment with the teachers, I had a flashback to my youth when my parents attended my conferences. Our conferences were always on a Sunday (I guess the archdiocese knew some kids were going to need a prayer or two). We attended family mass and then walked next door to the school with a prayer in my mind to meet with our teachers.
As we dressed for mass, I remember my mom calling each one of us into her room as she dressed (she was slow to dress) and asked if there was anything we needed to tell her before she met with our teacher. Of course, our answers were all the same, “No, mom. I was good.” My mom cared about our grades but she was big on DISCIPLINE. She never wanted to hear anything negative about her kids. Each morning before we exited her car, she would warn us, “That nun better not call me about your mouth.” I would pray each day that she did not call my mom. God sometimes heard my prayers, most times they fell on deaf ears.
After attending mass, and on our short walk to the school, my mom would ask again, “Is there something you need to tell me before I meet with this teacher?” The answer was no again as I looked up to the sky with a pleading face and a prayer in my heart.
My conference was always FIRST, always. The teachers had great things to say about my academics, my willingness to succeed. My mom would nod her head as she waited patiently for the ball to drop. Sometimes it did not, so my mom would have to help it drop. At the end of the conference, my mom would ask that dread question, “Is there anything else I need to know about Colandra?” She had opened Pandora’s box, she allowed negativity to enter the conference. As the floodgates opened, my mothers face went from smiling, head nodding to frowning to feet shaking. WHY?! Why did they have to express how much talking I do? I always received good grades. On paper, I made our school look geat. Plus, I always received a chocolate chip cookie each quarter from the principal because of my excellent grades. My mother did not care about grades, cookies, principal’s praises, or my willingness to help others. She just cared about my talking – my excessive talking.
I enjoyed talking in class.I guess it was a distraction to the teachers and to the learning of my peers. My mom wanted a silent child with good grades. That was it! Although, I received excellent grades and should have been rewarded for that, I was punished for talking too much.
Each one of my teachers reminded me (often) how my mother warned me to speak when spoken to. Ugh!!! I just could not do it. My mother never stopped trying to get me stop talking and I never stopped praying that God would throw me a bone.
As I enter my children’s conferences today, I asked them the same question my mother asked me. My children answered correctly. One enjoys talking. The other enjoys being a model student. So, as I entered the conferences, I smiled and nodded kindly, waiting for the ball to drop. It dropped and my child was accurate. She enjoys talking – a lot.
Although, I asked my girls the same questions asked of me before parent teacher conferences, my approach to their disruptions is a bit different. For one, I thanked them for being honest, and I ask if they could minimize the talking and save it for a time when it is appropriate. I even kept the smile on my face as I heard the news of my excessive talker. I decided to show her a little more love and understanding with the hopes I do no have to turn into my mother.