Edu-Parenting: Perpetually in the Middle
“How was school today, Mommy’s Little Pirate?”
“Not so good,” she replied after sighing precociously in the way only a three-year-old can.
“Oh, no! What happened?” My long days and long commutes had kept me too distant, and I wondered if somehow whatever preschool misadventure was about unfold was the result of Mommy not being around as much.
“My teacher was angry with me.” Now, I could say that I sat there without any bias or defensive phrasing popping around my head, but the truth was that a) I know my child, and I know that she can be obstinate, b) I know what it’s like to be the teacher of a relentlessly willful child, and c) neither of the first two points matter because that was my child on the other end of an “angry” teacher. Regardless of the profound importance of the last point, I sat without changing expression to listen to the story.
“Okay, why was she angry?”
“Because she told me to color, and I did not do it.” All of a sudden, I’m starting to give some points back to the preschool teacher. I’ve told this child over and over again that she isn’t the boss and that she needs to stop being so defiant all the time.
“Then what happened?” I probed.
“Ms. L.” I corrected. I still find that pronoun usage at the beginning of the sentence with all the attitude and deprecation of a “wronged” teenager utterly disgusting and disrespectful.
“Ms. L.,” she repeated, “told me that I need to color my paper, but I told her I did that yesterday.” Stay calm, I thought to myself. Just be cool.
“Then what happened?”
“Ms. L.,” I interrupted again.
“Ms. L. said ‘I’m going to call your mom and dad.’ So I scribble-scrabbled on the paper, and Ms. L. put a sad face on it.”
“Do you know how to color in the lines?” I asked, knowing full well her coloring prowess.
“Yes, Ma’am,” she answered with head and eyes low.
“So why did you scribble-scrabble all over the paper.”
“Because I didn’t want to color. I wanted to play with the toys. And Mommy?” For added emphasis she looked me right in the eyes with the most please-take-my-side-in-this-manner kind of way.
“I know how to color already.”
“I know you do, Baby.”
The rest of our conversation was about how sometimes you need to practice certain things to make sure that you don’t forget how to do them. Sometimes you have to do things in life that you just don’t want to do. Sometimes getting the work done so that you can play is better than resisting the work and never being able to play.
Later that night, though, long after the talk with the Pirate, I lay in bed next to my husband recapping the encounter. After laughing hysterically about the way her brain works, we both realized that this aspiring Pirate is incredibly bright. Most importantly, she’s brave enough to say what most of us would only think about saying. And if every kid could and would articulate how their “education” was or was not helping progress their learning, I wonder what our educational system would look like!