Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Parent from hell: My Mom!

One time Lulu, who is a high school teacher, shared a horrific story about a parent-from-hell. It's stories like this that kept me from being a teacher; I figured I would just storm off the job one day and that would be the end of my career- so why decide to start?

The parent-stories that both Lulu and Megan tell have prompted me to think about my own parents' interactions with my teachers. To be perfectly frank, I feel my teachers got the short end of the stick on occasion.

For example, one time in seventh grade I procrastinated writing a report until it became an emergency to get it done late Sunday night- and I needed my dad's help because I didn't understand some of the material I was reading. He was quite annoyed that I had waited so long to get started, so to save face I lied and said the teacher had just assigned it on Friday and it wasn't fair, blah blah blah. (We had actually beein given over three weeks to work on it.)

At the end of the quarter when my dad had to sign my report card, he wrote a terse note to the teacher to the effect of "it is unfair not to give your students adequate time to do their assignments" - and specifically referenced the report I had almost tanked on. I cringed when I handed back the report card, hoping my teacher would not read it. He never mentioned it to me, so I hope that is the case.

Then in eighth grade I had this perfectly lovely English/History/Social Studies teacher, Mrs. S. She was just about the sweetest woman ever. Anyway, my problem with procrastination was not new at that point, and I would regularly put off working on major assignments until I was down to the wire - a system that has served me well my entire life. (Some of us need a fire under our asses to perform.)

We had been "working" all semester on a research paper, and were required to hand in various interim assignments to chart our progress (e.g. have 100 note cards filled out by one date, have an outline by another date, etc.) I regularly failed to hand in the preliminary assignments because they weren't graded separately from the paper, and therefore I didn't care. I knew I would get the paper done somehow.

About four weeks into the paper schedule, Mrs. S. started freaking out because I wasn't doing the work. She reprimanded me several times a week, and I kept promising to get more done.

Then one day Mrs. S. came up to me in the classroom, looking very upset.

"Tom, I need to talk to you. It's very important."

Oh my god, I must be in big trouble this time, I thought.

"I called your mother yesterday to let her know how concerned I am about your lack of progress on this research paper. And you know what she said? She said that you think I hate you. How could you possibly think that about me? You know that's not true!" I think she even had tears in her eyes.

So I'm thinking "what on earth did my mom say to her, and why?" I didn't remember ever saying anything negative to my parents about Mrs. S. She was one of my favorite teachers ever. So I outright denied it to Mrs. S. and told her I had absolutely no idea why she would think that, except that maybe I had grumbled at the dinner table about having to do the research paper or something. I felt really bad that Mrs. S. was so upset, so I tried to convince her not to worry. I'm not sure it worked.

That evening I confronted my mother and asked her what she had said to Mrs. S. She said "well from what you say about her, it sounds like you think she doesn't like you."


27 years later, I still feel bad about how sad my mom made Mrs. S. feel.

All this talk from Lulu and Megan about parents from hell got me thinking about this. My parents had both been teachers, and both knew how it felt to have parents side with their children against them. Yet my parents were both completely willing to do the same, even when their son (me) was nothing but a lying complainer without a shred of evidence to support his accusations against his teachers. And especially in the case of Mrs. S. where I hadn't even provided them any information as to why they should attack her.

I'm telling you, you could not pay me enough to be a teacher. Ok, well maybe you could pay me enough, but I don't think any school would pay me would it take to put up with that shit.

And besides, being a Stragetic Sales Executive is heaven!*

*At CPW, heaven and hell are the same.


lulu said...

The parents aren't the bad part really, at least not most of the time. It's the administration that you have to look out for, when the administration sides with a kid instead of with you, then you've got a problem.

Bubs said...

I think my kids may hate me because I almost always side with the teachers.

The Freelance Cynic said...

And yet my parents seemed to always be on the teachers side.... why do I get the Fair ones?

GrizzBabe said...

Why CP, your parents knew you were a darling angel who would NEVER lie to them. Those mean old teachers must have had it in for you. From your parent's perspective, it's the only logical explanation.

Dale said...

It seems your procrasination skills have even gone so far as to now lead you to vacation in the U.K. to avoid key aspects of your position as Strategic Sales Executive. Tsk tsk.

In the grand tradition of thievery that's been established, I may, when I have the time, post about some of my lovely dealings with teaching staff, procrastination, parent interference and Lulu.

Johnny Yen said...

When my son was in fourth grade, he got a bunch of terrible grades because of missing assignments. We sided with the teacher-- until the "missing" assignments started coming back to us, with grades (good grades) on them. We started fishing around and found that not only did this happen to a bunch of kids that year, it had happened for years. We took it to the principal, who for whatever reason, tried to put us off. This really pissed my ex- and I off, and we gathered volumes of documentation of this teacher's incompetence, and she still put us off. We ended up taking it to her superior. A shitstorm ensued-- and it brought administrative attention to the principal, who, it turned out, was stealing money from the school. She was, of course, fired.

The new principal got rid of the teacher.

Beth said...

CP, we are twins sons/daughters of different mothers. I never wrote a paper until the night before. In my freshman college writing class, I researched/wrote/typed my paper the night before ... got an A- (a few points off for word choice) ... while the rest of the class earned Cs. Today, employed as a writer, I still wait and write an entire newsletter the night before it's due. And I write damn good newsletters.

Procrastination rules!

Old Lady said...

I blew off a paper once, a book report. After the restrictions and late nights, I never did it again.

lulu said...

I am currently in panic mode trying to get about a million research papers graded in time for report cards to be filed on Thursday. I procrastinate just as much as my kids do.

Tumuli said...

Procrastination delays some actions while making time for others...

Megan said...

These days you can barely pay ME enough to be a teacher.

And I'm pleased to see I've become such a regular feature on CPW. You practically can't blog without mentioning me. :-)