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.