Despite all appearances, I do actually feed my kids, make sure their hair is brushed and try to help them do their homework—really.
I know that parent teacher interviews are actually a time for the teachers to talk to me to about my kids’ progress and things we need to work on. That said, it’s also the day that I get to show them that I am not the disorganized, disinterested, dishevelled mess they picture when they are sending home yet another overdue library book notice or emailing a reminder to send in that permission slip. However, owing to time constraints and social norms, there is a lot of stuff I wish I could cover, but cannot. They are as follows:
1. I do feed my kids
My oldest is impossible to rouse in the morning. Like a teenager, my burned-out eight-year-old consistently (and stubbornly) sleeps through breakfast and only gets dressed when he hears his sisters putting on their coats and boots (unlike a teenager, he is terrified at the prospect of being left at home alone). While I will not wait around for him to eat breakfast, I do always grab him a muffin or piece of toast for the road. However, one day a couple of weeks ago he was disappointed by the pumpkin loaf that I brought and refused to eat it. And then the next morning, he didn’t eat again. As it turns out, he was choosing not to eat on the way to school because his teacher is “extra nice to me when I have a stomachache because you won’t give me food or water in the morning.”
2. If you want the library books back, please stop sending them home
Our house is not a disorganized as you think…OK, it totally is. The fact is, we have a lot of books and no matter what I say, library books always get mixed up with the general population. And once a tiny little library book makes it into one of my three kids’ crowded, disorderly book shelves, we might as well be looking for a needle in a haystack—or actually hay in a haystack. The only way to successfully keep our names off of the librarian’s call list is a rule that no library books can enter our house. I’d rather periodically select a few new books to buy than be forced to pay for sticky, dog-eared library books that we’ve lost in the black hole that is also our home.
3. Homework often just doesn’t make it home. I know it exists, but if they don’t bring it home, there is not much I can do about it.
Short of calling you. Which I hate doing but I will mention at the interview. Fingers crossed that you believe me. I always did my homework and this situation is really stressing me out.
4. Believe it or not, I really do brush the kids’ hair every day.
I drop off a (pre-Maria) von Trapp kid in the morning and pick up an extra from Oliver! at the end of the day. I don’t know what time the transformation takes hold, but I suspect it’s about 20 seconds before the morning bell.
5. I do buy mittens and hats (and neckwarmers and mitten clips).
Leaving the house with these items is no guarantee that they will make it to first recess, however. This fall, my kids have collectively lost six pairs of mittens, three mitten clips and two hats. Short of having them surgically attached to my children, I don’t know what else to do. Of course, I do label everything. But labels are not tracking devices—it just means that there is a super-warm collection of mittens, neckwarmers and hats strewn all over the city with my kids’ names in them.
6. I don’t know what they tell you happens at home. But it didn’t happen. Or maybe it did, but I can explain.
I’m reminded of the time my son asked my parents what their favourite swear word is and then volunteered mine (it rhymes with other ducker). He also proceeded to explain the circumstances under which it was said (which is a story I won’t get it into, because I’m sure you’ve heard it by now as it’s one of his favourites). I can only imagine what else you have heard. Though I don’t want to because I won’t be able to look you in the eye at the holiday concert.
7. The report card comments about how slow they are to do things really resonates with me. But I have it worse than you and I don’t know how to fix it.
I get it. I really do. It’s frustrating. It takes just under five hours for them to clean up a board game. If they take less than an hour to get their pyjamas on after a bath, it’s because I have bribed and/or threatened them. You can convince them to put on their entire snowsuit and boots and whatever hat/mitten combo they can locate by the end of recess? That is their A-game. Trust me.
8. I am disorganized but not irresponsible.
I know I lost the permission slip. I signed it and then left it on the kitchen counter because I wanted to make sure my kids understood that they would be swimming with their class (in the water. With their bathing suits on). Or I didn’t sign it immediately because I wanted to look into whether or not my allergic kid would be safe on the field trip. My intentions are excellent. My follow-through is subpar.
9. Just because I am extremely happy to get rid of them some mornings, doesn’t mean that I don’t love them as much as the smoochie parents who hug them until the bell.
After an hour of fighting with my son to get out of bed, find his coat, put on his boots, then going back for the mittens he forgot, and then listening to him tell me about how I am the worst mommy ever because I brought him pumpkin loaf for breakfast instead of pumpkin cake, excuse me if I am delighted to finally put him in your capable hands for a few hours. I still love him. I just don’t feel a need to wax poetic about how much I am going to miss him. Because that would be a lie. And also, I need to run home and look for some library books, that mitten and a permission slip.