Thursday, January 29, 2015

Rule Follower

Some days your child gets home from school and says "You got the e-mail didn't you?" so you check and realize you did get an e-mail from your child's teacher telling you she has involved the dean in a situation because your child has been speaking about topics inappropriate for a third grader. Meanwhile, you had no idea said situation was even going on, much less that it has escalated to the level of involving the dean. I mean, you try so very hard to be a good parent- how many books on the subject have you read??

For a rule follower who NEVER got into trouble (in school), this is quite traumatic. First you feel tingly, blind-sided shock all over your body. Then as you begin to absorb the situation, you e-mail the teacher back and say "yes- do what you need to do". You tell your child he will not be going to soccer practice today, and please go to your room because I am still in too much shock to know what to do. They do not give you instructions for this in "the manual". 

Slowly, you go through the thoughts like, "what will my friends think of me", "what does the teacher think of me?", "should I have NOT given him the sex talk 2 days ago?", "this is why I should homeschool", "what if my child is a sociopath serial killer?"- (ps- this is akin to KNOWING you have cancer when you have any ailment, anytime a child does ANYTHING wrong, you are sure they will become a serial killer!) 

You talk to your child who assures you in between sobs/yells/screams that this situation IS NOT as bad as you think it is. You plead with him to tell you the truth as you will be meeting with the teacher and will find out if he is omitting any details. He assures you he is indeed telling you the truth. You assure him you are on his side and release him from his room after clarifying that there are only 4 things he is allowed to talk about in school : school work, soccer, computers, and mine craft. 

Meanwhile, the idea of who you pictured your ideal child to be- you know, the idea you concocted while holding this precious little one first in your womb, then in your arms, slowly gives way to the realization that you are the parent to an imperfect HUMAN who makes mistakes just like you do/did. That this journey of parenting is just as much about you and your fear of conflict, imperfection, and judgement as it is about him and your desire for what is "best for him". 

When you discuss this with your husband he is baffled by your reaction to the situation. He says very rational things like "Kids get in trouble all the time", "It is a learning opportunity", and "Hopefully, he makes these mistakes before the costs are too high".He is not too concerned by it, we will just speak to the teacher and go by what she and the dean say. 

As you stand down the barrel of a parent/teacher conference tomorrow morning, unsure if you can even get through it without crying, you reflect on all of this, mostly about your reaction to the situation (because that is all you have control over), but also because you feel like you are "in trouble" too and as a rule follower the shame of this is the most uncomfortable feeling in the world and has NOTHING to do with your child and everything to do with you.

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