I don’t often feel compelled to write here anymore. I used to enjoy sharing my parenting failures and having someone else leave a comment or tweet me saying OMG ME TOO, but then the minor failures seemed to get bigger somehow. They became the focal point of my day.
Suddenly forgetting spare clothes on a trip to the beach wasn’t just a laugh-and-facepalm moment but an actual monumental and unfixable error.
Ah, anxiety. Good times.
Anyway, what brings me back to this now somewhat unfamiliar corner of my online world is an event that took place last week.
Cue menacing music, possibly something akin to the theme from Jaws.
Except I was feeling relatively blasé about the whole thing because, sure, I might not be winning any Mum of the Year awards anytime soon, but I’d never actually had a bad parent’s evening.
You just know how this is going to end, don’t you?
I’ll skip the part where the teacher was pissed because we went to the wrong door – HOW THE FUCK WAS I TO KNOW THAT THE CLASSROOM HAS TWO DOORS? – and N had to leave because we were now running late, but actually I probably should have seen that as a sign of what was to come.
I didn’t, of course, so when I walked into the room and sat down expectantly, I was in for a really nasty surprise.
“Well, academically, he’s doing fine,” Said the teacher. “But he could apply himself a little more.”
“Yes, we’ve been told this before,” I replied, still blissfully unaware that anything was amiss.
“And, to be honest with you, he needs to start listening and doing as he’s told,” She continued, barely pausing for breath. “He thinks he’s in charge. He tells the other children what to do. He tells *me* what to do. Quite frankly, he’s disruptive.”
I have no recollection of my responses after that, although I suspect they could be best described as “monosyllabic”.
So. Here’s the mother who thinks that forgetting spare clothes on a trip to the beach (it happened once, by the way) makes her the epitome of parental failure, and she’s just heard that most loaded of words in the parenting world – “disruptive” – in connection with her own child.
And now you can see where this is going. I reacted badly. I shouted when I got home, which arguably makes me even more of a parenting failure than the fact of the disruptive child or the forgotten beach clothes, but one of my many failings is that I am emotionally driven and impulsive.
After shouting I cried. And after crying I failed to sleep. And after failing to sleep I cried a bit more while I cleaned the kitchen the next morning and then I wrote a letter to O’s teacher.
It was a good letter. It asked all the right questions – “Why didn’t I know about this before?” “Why haven’t you followed through with the school’s disciplinary procedure?” – and was delivered to the school reception before lunch time.
Turns out? Well, maybe the teacher was tired. Maybe she was in a bad mood. Maybe she’d just had a shitty day. Who knows? But my kid has actually only displayed this disruptive behaviour over a short period and he now has a “behaviour book” to chart his progress and encourage him to do as he’s told.
I’m going to be honest here; I would rather not have had to deal with this. In the grand scheme of things, it was absolutely the last thing I needed. No mother wants to be told that their kid is getting up to all manner of fuckery at school, especially on parent’s evening when they weren’t expecting it.
Well, I could have buried my head in the sand, couldn’t I? I didn’t; I dealt with it, despite the fact that I spent most of that first night wondering how I’d managed to fuck up so badly and not even realise and if my kids might actually be better off without me in their lives (I don’t mean dead; I just mean “not here”).
So, I guess what I’m really trying to say is that we can all have a shitty parent’s evening, and we can all go home afterwards and examine the minutiae of everything we might ever have done wrong over the course of our parenting journey and *that is okay*. I’d go so far as to say that it is probably perfectly normal to wonder where the fuck it all went wrong and find yourself wondering if you’ve got the beginnings of a juvenile delinquent living in your house.
Or maybe that’s just me.