I am having a lot of trouble keeping my Helicopter Mom tendencies under control….and that’s a problem, but this boy is only two and has technically not started school yet. Lordy, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.
After what turned out to be an annoying time at a doctor’s appointment (“I really enjoy it when people treat me like I’m stupid. It really brings a smile to my face,” Said nobody ever.), I went to go pick up Ursa Major from his drop-off playgroup. I know that he gets tired toward the end, and often, when I get there 10 minutes early to pick him us, I see him at the tail end of circle time. Today, I saw him during circle time, participating, but not fully. He was crawling around, he was joking with friends, he was singing and dancing sometimes, and sometimes he was wandering. The teachers seemed to have given up trying to engage him and bring him back to the activity. So he had free reign of the room. He wasn’t tearing up the room…he wasn’t even being disruptive….but he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing about 50% of the time.
Then one of the parents came to pick up their child early. She knocked on the door and entered the room. All of the children jumped up and started running for the door. The only adult voice that I could hear came from one of the aids (there are always 3 adults int he room) scolding loudly “No, [Ursa Major], stay with us at circle.” “Come back, [Ursa Major], we’re staying in circle!” “[Ursa Major]! Stay with us!” And she seemed really annoyed…but I became annoyed, because as I watched the event, I noticed that all of the children were up, and indeed, Ursa Major was at the back of the pack.
I know that I’m sensitive. He’s my child. I also realize that I spent a lot of my time teaching in an urban school where discipline was a big deal and was primarily focused on boys of color. I also realize that I spend most of my day giving more negative instructions (“No jumping on the couch!” “No, please don’t throw that at your brother!”) than I do positive ones, though I do try my best to balance.
So I took a deep breath before the door opened and I greeted my toddler, who seemed no worse for the wear.
I have to be careful about deciding who is helping and who is hurting. While I’ll be a bit weary of that particular aid (the teacher loves him, and so does one of the other aids) from now on, I can’t be that mom who decides that the rest of the school is the enemy. Indeed, I have to remember that no one is out to hurt my child’s feelings or ruin his school experience.
As a teacher, I was always on guard when it came to parent interactions. I saw, on many occasions (and even once or twice by my own doing), misunderstandings become all out war. I don’t know when the tide turned, but somehow teachers and parents have found themselves on opposite sides of the battle field. I did my best to build warm relationships with the parents that I worked with and I was always the first to say “I don’t have any children, but I recognize that this is your precious baby and I’ll do everything that I can to teach him history.”
And now here I have a precious baby. My sense of justice on his behalf is heightened times five-hundred.
But his sense of autonomy is incredibly important and the alliances that I make with his teachers, present and future, will help him ten times more than any come-to-Jesus talks I feel like giving.
So thank God I was a teacher first before I became a mama. Otherwise, I might have been all up in that room today. I only hope that I’ll be able to remain this calm once we start our segregated preschool…