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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Suck it up babes...

Okay so parent teacher conferences were yesterday...well I am a recovering "my kid is perfect" mom.  After 16 years, I get kids make mistakes...big ones and it's my job to help them be less entitled and more humble.  I take it seriously.  I have friends - lots of them - who make it a point to praise their kids for waking up, showing up and wearing a shirt and pants in the right order.  I spot it because I was it...I made sure my kids knew every day that the world was happy just because they were born.  A disservice?  Um...yes.  A better lesson?  Suck it up, you will be fine.  I told my daughter every minute of her life that she can be anything she wants...well y'know what?  She won't be a rocket scientist- math is her deficit.  Is it kinder to let her think math is the problem and NOT her or is it better to help redirect her to where her talents will flourish?

I know someone whose daughter cried after an interview at a fast food restaurant because the manager cancelled and rescheduled and then was late causing her undue stress at her first job application process.  It caused me to I that mom?  I have taken pride in providing my kids soft landings and I will be that mother until the last breath of life has left me but I am also here to remind them that people suck, animals die and life is a bitch...a real bitch and letting them out into the world with the notion that they will be embraced and praised for walking upright and breathing involuntarily isn't kind at all.
Just because I have the four most amazing children ever doesn't mean everyone else thinks fact, everyone else doesn't think so and that's probably the best lesson they can learn.

A history teacher that is part Nazi, part Amin, part sadist has my daughter for an hour a day.  He's an eye rolling ass with a disdain for question and in my conference with them yesterday, it became very clear to me Maddie isn't his favorite. (what??? gasp!).  But y'know what?  I wanted very much to petition to remove her from his class.  She can't do anything just right enough for him and she hates it.  Every part of us wanted to fix this.  We chose to take the harder role...he is not just Maddie's teacher, he's a window to difficult people with which she can peer through and learn from.  Welcome to the rest of your life Maddie.  He's your father in law, he's your boss, he's your neighbor.  We are your advocates, We are your best allies and I am your bodyguard...if he is abusive, I will go totally LA on his ass and never stop until he's fired but if he's difficult, challenging and harsh...well, put up and shut up.  He can ask you to jump in a lake and you can come home to tell us about it, but you better be wet (Joseph's favorite parenting lecture).  I don't like it...not one bit and I hated telling her we decided she would stay in this class.  I was actually physically uncomfortable saying it...I could feel my heart pounding.  She was upset, begged for us to reconsider and then at the end of our call agreed it won't be easy but she will do it.

I found more satisfaction as a parent in her resolve to face it down than run away from it.  I find myself on better footing and Joseph and I both agreed this was the right thing despite our desire to hold her to our bosom as we face the storm in advance of her.  I'm proud of her.  I always am.  Even when she screws up.  Almost especially then.

In the interest of full disclosure, I put the Nazi on fuck with my kid, I will be your worst nightmare.

I never said I was good at this letting go shit.  I just said I did it.


  1. Have you read the book, "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee"? A good one.

    Can a teacher be a total jerk? Mean? Unfair? Petty? Absolutely. Should we really equate one with a Nazi? I hope not. We cannot even imagine. I believe that when we equate everyday people with "Nazis", we soften the image and importance of that historical evil (and its present rumblings) for our children and reduce it to something relatively pedestrian.

    I love your writing, Dawn. I hope we get to see it published!!

    For whatever it is worth:

  2. Great book, Dr E.. one that is well worn on our bookshelf and that is at the core of our parenting strategy. Yep, we have a strategy!

    Also love the followup, "Blessing of a B-", another keeper. Thanks for the suggestion!