Friday, September 12, 2008

Meet Mrs. Dread

I'm sitting in the cafeteria in the middle of a Kindergarten Orientation meeting, and I can't hear a word the principal is saying. It's not because of the crowd of rude parents who are talking over her, but rather, my disturbance is due to the negative feng shui that exists in the room. The principal is standing underneath an awning made to resemble a tropical hut. Giant wooden letters sit on top of its roof. The letters spell out: "NACK HUT." It seems that sometime during the cafeteria mayhem of the school year, the "S" in "SNACK" keeled over, and no one ever bothered to revive it. I'm wondering, "How could this building leader speak under a broken sign?" It's driving me insane. While her mouth forms sounds into the microphone, the anal voice in my head is screaming: "Fix the S!" Before my brain realizes what my legs are doing, I have risen from my seat. I approach the principal in the middle of her speech. Pulling up a chair and stepping up on to it, I ask her to excuse me for just a moment. Confused and slightly alarmed, she pauses, microphone in hand, to stare at me and asks, curtly, what I'm doing. I pick up the fallen letter and return it to its proper location, forming the word: SNACK. "There! Now you can continue," I tell her. The room is silent. I sit back down, smiling. I'm finally relieved. Big brother pipes up from his seat, "Nice job, mommy! Now all the children will understand where to go to get their snacks!" A peal of laughter follows from the parents, and some clap. Making eye contact with the principal I shrug and apologize. "That word was driving me crazy. Now I can actually listen to you....Um, Sorry."

Reflecting on this action, I realize this may not have been the most positive way to introduce myself to the faculty and administrators of my child's school. However, that misspelling made for a very bad presentation, and a truly sad sign. I felt compelled to intervene.

In B.C. times, (Before Children), when I was employed as a teacher, I sometimes encountered "difficult" parents. I called them Mr. or Mrs. Dread behind their backs, of course. There were many reasons why I dreaded dealing with them, but often, I thought these particular adults were pushy, and overly judgemental. I swore I would never become a Mrs. Dread.

I guess the old adage is true: "Never say never." I recall this dusty promise as I'm dialing the number of my child's principal. School hasn't started yet, and it's big brother's first day...of kindergarten. I explain that I have concerns and questions about an optional enrichment program that my son is enrolled in. This may be obnoxious of me, but so what! Reader, who else will advocate for the academic success of my children?

My fear and doubt in the school district mounts during the first week. Big brother gets bullied on the playground, and when he asks an adult for help, he is told to "go play." I only feel more concerned when the teacher sends home notes riddled with grammar mistakes. I send in a note, then call her directly and voice my concerns. I decide to give big brother extra projects once a week to help enrich his learning. All the while, I feel like I've been possessed by Mrs. Dread.

This behavior is not like me. I understand that no one is perfect. However, everyone can shoot for excellence. When I was a new teacher I was so nervous, I forgot how to spell word "hamburger." I wrote it like this on the black board: HANDBURGER. Of course I looked dumb, and a kid corrected me. I can relate to the pressures of being a teacher, but as a parent, I feel frustrated. I expect those who are entrusted with my child's academic success to strive to be excellent at what they do, just as I did when I went home from work and secretly checked the spelling of "hamburger" in the dictionary. I never put a hand in a burger again.

By Friday the teacher is responding with extra notes on big brother's progress, and she has worked his enrichment projects into her curriculum. I look into the mirror and realize, the horrible transformation is complete. This is what giving birth has done to me. I am Mrs. Dread, and it turns out that, as Martha Stewart would say, "It's a good thing."

“Excellence can be obtained if more than others think is wise;...risk more than others think is safe;...dream more than others think is practical;...expect more than others think is possible.” - Unknown

1 comment:

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Wow, this post strikes so many chords with me. I was a teacher too and hated dealing with parents. I also had a problem with a boy bullying my son in kindergarten. When the teacher did nothing, my husband told him to push back. He did, and the boys became buddies thereafter! Did you REALLY fix that letter in the middle of her speech or was that just poetic license?

Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.


Loren Christie

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