. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: The Jig is Up

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Jig is Up

Dear Mrs. X,

Thank you very much for meeting with me last week about your child's progress in my class. Fourth grade can be a tough year. I feel it's important to keep the lines of communication open between myself and parents. Through honest and open conversations, we can really make a difference in students' lives.

In the spirit of honesty, I feel I must offer you an honest compliment. You possess a keen insight into the minds of teachers. Your ability to identify characteristics in me that, in eleven years of teaching have gone unobserved, astonishes me. It's spooky how you can look into the depths of my heart to reveal my true intentions as an educator.

I suppose I have been living a double life of sorts. Through our frequent conversations via email, on the phone, and often using the prinicpal as a conduit, I have come to realize that the mask I don has begun to wear thin.

I guess the best thing for me to do at this point is confess.

It is my goal to ruin your child's life.

There. I said it.

Everything your child has told you about me is true.

The reason he is failing math IS because every time he raises his hand to ask for help, I ignore him. I go to every other student but him. Yup, I have never worked with him in a small group, neither on a daily basis or ever for that matter. I have never worked with him one-on-one both before or after school. I have never pulled up a chair next to his desk and sat with him while he completed his assignments. No, the truth is, when I see his hand go up, I look right past him.

His poor math grades have no relation to his daydreaming, playing in his desk, talking to his neighbor, or digging in his backpack. Thankfully, you astutely diagnosed him with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which explains the apparent inattentiveness. In all honesty, if I made a better attempt to be more engaging, perhaps he wouldn't feel the need to otherwise entertain himself. To remedy this, I'm going to give some serious consideration to your demand that I sit next to your child whenever students work independently so he can remain focused. I am comfortable redefining "independently" for him.

I also feel I must apologize. I am sorry that I sent your child to the nurse the other day when he complained of a toothache. I don't know where my head was. Thank you for the quick analysis of my motives via email that afternoon. Had you not pointed it out, I would have never picked up on my underlying desire to lessen the number of students in my class by sending them to the nurse for innocuous ailments. I got your message loud and clear though. Your use of 18 point font, bold print, all caps text really aids in the reading process. From now on, I will not send him to the nurse for toothaches.

I was shocked to hear from your child Monday morning that he had pink eye over the weekend. You know, when he complained of a watery eye on Friday, I made sure to take a good look at it. The gale-force winds we were experiencing might have lodged something in his eye. I did not send him to the nurse for two reasons. One: the eye did not appear irritated and your child said it was not hurting or causing any discomfort. Two: I recalled your message about maintaining my class size at all costs.

I was just dumbfounded when your child relayed the following message on Monday morning: "My mom says you should have sent me to the nurse because I had pink eye!" I can't tell you the relief I felt to learn that you possess the requisite medical knowledge to diagnose your child without the benefit of a professional health care provider. That must save your family precious time and money. (By my count, your ability to diagnose your child has come in handy twice now. Once with the pink eye, and once with the OCD. You have a keen eye for ailments, Dr. X!) And thank goodness it was the 24 hour pink eye or your child would have missed that family party on Sunday!

As an aside, I would love to know the name of the drug store where you purchased the over-the-counter antibiotics used to cure the pink eye. It is so difficult nowadays to purchase such things without a doctor's prescription. I would really like to get some myself.

And finally, about my most recent egregious act. I did indeed give your child a bladder infection.

It was willful and intentional. I do withhold all bathroom usage while students are in class. What teacher in her right mind would allow a child to USE THE BATHROOM when their bladder gets full? If I let students go to the restroom each time they asked, it would take much longer for them to develop bladder infections and UTI's. For time's sake, I must forbid bathroom trips just to get in the requisite number of infections I am mandated to create by the end of the year. For that reason alone, I must continue, as your child claims, to deny bathroom usage...period.

(Please ignore that passage in my beginning of the year packet explaining our bathroom break policy. Disregard the portion that says, "Students will be dismissed to use the restroom when needed." I didn't really mean it.)

Thank you again for consistently communicating with me. It is through your guidance and support I am finding my true identity as a teacher.

Edna Lee


Anonymous said...

Alright... While part of me did laugh at the situation (I do feel for you), the other part said, "Get a life, lady (the parent)!" I wonder sometimes how much time these kind of parents get to think of excuses and ways to make others suffer. It's very sad that they're spilling their insecurity, etc. onto their children and blame others for their own mistakes and ignorance. Okay, that was a bit strong... for me.

Wamblings said...

hahaha, Ain't dealing with parents fun! I'm lucky since I teach mostly private instruction and mostly with the parent in the room. I still have to deal with some fruitcakes from time to time. I even have a "I'm sorry I don't have any openings right now" list for students who for whatever reason quit and I don't want them back. This rarely has anything to do with the student personally. "Sorry momma, I've just fired you from ever being my boss again."

Anonymous said...

Edna Lee,

I mightily enjoyed your post in mock-response to the impossible parent. I am a reporter for the K-12 ed policy paper Education Week and would like to talk with you about teacher-parents relations more generally for a story I am researching. (And soon.)Would you kindly email me?

Bess Keller

Ms Characterized said...

And here I thought I was the only one out to ruin my students' lives!

Where do I pay my dues to your organization? Is there a secret handshake for us? You shall know us by the number of our Fs!

DesertSurfer said...

I can totally feel your pain!! It always amazes me how totally in the dark a lot of parents are.

This reminds me of something a parent told me a couple of years ago. This one girl got into trouble, but go figure, she told her parents an entirely different story. So when mom came in and I explained what really happened she looked at me with great distain and asked me:

"why would my 13 year old daughter lie to me?!?!?!?"

At first I thought she was joking and I am just glad I did not just take a drink of water because I would have spit it out in laughter but then I realized she was totally serious.

Parents soooo should have to past a test before they reproduced.

Edna Lee said...

It is so refreshing to learn that I am not alone in my plot to destroy children's lives. I feel a true kinship with my fellow Young Life Ruiners.

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your techniques... I mean tales.

Anonymous said...

This truly makes me feel better about my own experiences this year! If only I could adopt such a healthy attitude as yours in order to accept these gifts of insight that parents have been offering me!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I understand and can relate completely! Is it any wonder that there are never enough highly qualified teachers to fill the vacancies left each year?

EHT said...

I agree. Fourth grade is a hard year...for the kids and the teachers. :0

I have wanted to send your letter to so many parents over the years. Thank you for wording it exactly the way I would want it to read.

Jasmin Loire said...

I can sense that I have one of these situations gearing up. With a week and a half left in the school year.

Never mind that I've been after this child since the first test to seek improvements. The child told his mother that (1) I won't help after school and (2) that I refuse to acknowledge his homework assignments.

I feel your pain. Last year, a parent was physically sick when the student admitted to some of his lies when the administrative team was glaring him down. Up until then Mom had been his biggest advocate and I had been the devil incarnate.

Parker Montessori said...

I think we must appreciate those who do something especial. Thanks for sharing!