This week Mothership, our Brit mum in the US attends parent teaching meetings for her children and discovers strange and wonderful things to leave her proud…
Today Husband and I went for Four and Oneâ€™s parent-teacher conferences.
This caused some tittering amongst ourselves partly because, despite being the owners of a couple of grey hairs and wrinkles (of course I mean HIM not ME, how dare you?), we hardly feel old enough to be involved in these meetings unless we are the pupil in question. I was already feeling anxious about that old chestnut of my schooldays: Could Do Better.
We start out in Oneâ€™s classroom where we are served bagels and cream cheese with fresh orange juice. Very civilised. Then we spend a pleasant half an hour being told what a nice child One is; how co-operative, mellow and cheerful; that he has AMAZING gross motor skills for his age (actually, we were already appraised of this after he climbed out of his cot, on to the chest of drawers, out of the window and on to the roof of the house in under 2 seconds a couple of months back). We learn he is good at sharing toys, which astonishes us as he has recently learned the word â€œMineâ€ and is not afraid of using it.
We are invited to share any concerns and Husband asks if they think his verbal skills are on the slow side. â€œOne is the strong silent typeâ€, mother says to herself, defensively. However they reassure us he is coming along nicely and is on par with the group. They do say, though, that this is the latest group of talkers they have ever had in the history of the school, ever, since it opened in 1987. This canâ€™t all be because of One, can it? I decide that this batch of babies are all communicating on a superior, extrasensory level and besides One can throw balls better than most 5 year olds so it all pans out, right?
Then we realise our time is up and we need to go over to see Fourâ€™s teachers.
In Fourâ€™s classroom they are offering marble cake and apple juice. Pudding!
Husband immediately eats two large slices to fortify himself.
After exchanging pleasantries we are talked through Fourâ€™s developmental level in various areas. She can use the toilet on her own. She can sort shapes and colours. She is reasonably good at conflict resolution (at this one Husband and I exchange a glance but decide by mutual silence not to contradict). Then the teacher gives us her personalised report on Four which starts:
â€œFour loves the earth and works hard every day to help save the planet!â€ with a big smiley face surrounded by petals.
Apparently she has been patrolling the loo, making sure each child doesnâ€™t waste water or paper towels:
â€œHey stop! Those are TREES, you know!â€ and
â€œTurn off the tap! Donâ€™t waste Californiaâ€™s water!â€
In addition she insists on washing out her yoghurt pot and plastic bags after lunch and brings them back home for us to re-use which is very sweet, although by now I could actually provide the global population with little pots for watercolour paint and the Art Cupboard of Death is overflowing with supplies that must be glued together to make rockets, â€œbeautiful jewelsâ€ and various abstract installations (cue abject maternal misery at the ensuing clearing up) Such is her sphere of influence that she has persuaded all the other tots in her class to do the same.
Upon hearing all of this, Husband actually has to turn his head from the table to wipe away a surreptitious tear of heart-bursting pride and beyond-wildest-dream-of-offspringâ€™s-achievement-coming true – As Professor of Environmental Science, this is akin to a Leopold/Wolfgang Amadeus type bonding moment for him.
â€œDaddyâ€™s little eco-warriorâ€
Is there a T-shirt for that yet? He would SO buy it, especially if it was fairtrade organic cotton..
I have to say I was pretty chuffed too. It is me, after all, who talks to her about the practical stuff; turning out the lights, saving paper, reduce, re-use, recycle etc. And it is definitely me who greens the home with cloth shopping bags, a car smaller than I secretly would like, no battery-run toys, taps off when brushing teeth and all that other good stuff.
The teachers continued for a bit on some other points, but I must confess I canâ€™t really remember anything else they said too clearly. What really mattered is that there werenâ€™t any â€œCould Do Betters.â€
This time, maybe for the first time, I felt like I got top marks.
Mothership is a former pop star, singer, composer, and writer from London who was abducted by aliens (a German one who promised chocolates and a cleaning lady) and brought to southern California to live in a small town by the sea with her son ‘One’ and daughter ‘Four’. Keep up with her escapades on her blog, Motherhood: The Final Frontier