Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lists, Parents & Paperwork

I'm a listoholic. I admit it. I make lists for everything, then promptly lose them, find them again, lose them again, say the St. Anthony prayer, find the list again and eventually wade through about half the tasks dutifully marking them off until, of course, I lose the list again.

Naturally I had my Christmas list at the ready for the after-Thanksgiving sales. It took me, oh, about 10 minutes before I lost, found, lost, found, lost–well, you see why me and St. Anthony are on a first name basis.

At any rate, it all got me to thinking about what to write for this week since I have been away from all my DIs (Darling Inspirations) for the Thanksgiving holidays. So, since I'm a listoholic, I thought it would be a good time to do a list of something. After reading about Hot Potato parents from the Thanksgiving carnival, I thought why not compile a list of the Top 5 Parent Incidents I have either had the privilege to hear myself or hear about in the teacher’s lounge. As a disclaimer of sorts, none of these occurred at my current school. However, all of these are true and occurred at my former school or at another school. So here they are…

Top 5 Parent Incidents

#5…Any story involving tackling.
One teacher told me about a parent who chased her down the hall yelling about her child’s grades until a principal tackled the parent. Another coach had a story about a mad mom who left the bleachers and chased a referee around the basketball court with an umbrella at a school game because she was unhappy with the officiating. Jeez, I wonder what she did when she didn’t like her child’s report card?

#4…Senior English teachers always have great stories about difficult parents because it is there that 12 years of unsupervised goofing off collides with parental concerns regarding graduation, leaving an ugly, ugly mess.

One senior English teacher was returning parent phone calls during her conference period when one parent blamed the teacher for her child’s failing report card. When the parent complained that she hadn’t been notified about the failing grade, the teacher said she had mailed a letter home notifying the parent of the child’s failure and included a calendar of assignments. At that point, in a feeble attempt to ignore her child’s laziness, the parent screeched about the teacher’s penmanship (trust me, her writing is legible and better than most). Since the mother continued to rant about the teacher’s illegible handwriting, the teacher volunteered to read the assignments so the mom could jot them down. At which point the huffy parent claimed, “I can’t. I’m in the car driving.”

The teacher didn’t bother to remind the parent that she had called the parent at work.

#3…In my early years as a publications adviser, a parent called to ask what hotel her daughter was staying at while she attended the journalism convention. “Convention?” I asked perplexed. At which point the mom berated me for not knowing who her daughter was (I did), where the convention was (there wasn’t) and for being stupid (I’m not). Turns out her daughter decided she wanted to go to New York City for a few days—on her own—so she concocted a school trip, and off she went by bus.

#2…Any parent conference involving issues of self-esteem (or self-of-steam as one of my students used to say). I remember one conference where the parent blamed me for the child’s low self-esteem because I supposedly never complimented the child.

“Well,” I said, “I can’t very well compliment your child when he hasn’t turned in any of his work. You have to have something to compliment.”

“You’re tearing down his self-esteem,” she insisted.

“He needs to do the work,” I said. “He needs to turn in something, anything.”

“But you never tell him he’s doing anything good,” she said.

“I can’t tell him anything good because he’s not doing anything,” I said.

“Well,” she said, “you should be building up his self-esteem.”

Just what do you think would have happened if I had said, “Ok, how about, ‘Great job on doing nothing!’ or ‘Wow, isn’t it great, you have the most zeroes of anyone! Way to go.’”

Sigh. I was just wondering.

#1…But my hands down, drum roll pah-leese, No. 1 all-time favorite (and please let me know if you have a better story)…In an effort to calm down a teacher who was so frustrated by a parent who tried to attack her, the principal asked “What would you like done?”

The teacher responded, “I want her dead.”

To which the always calm and wonderful principal’s secretary, in a valiant effort to diffuse the situation, opened her file drawer and said, “Well, let me get the paperwork for that.”


Anonymous said...

Number 3 - what fond memories - I was shocked it didn't make Number 1!


askthehomediva said...

I still think "murder" and mayhem has to trump "disappearating."

Mimi said...

I love number 1...too funny. I have a room full of some interesting parents this year...many many stories.

Devonia said...

Interesting parent stories... I have some curdling teacher/principal stories.

I was a hairstylist with a clientele of many both private and public Dallas teachers (back in the seventies when Dallas schools were good), both private and public. One I particularly recall which provided a great contrast to my notion that teachers were dedicated to the higher goals of instilling knowledge in young minds.

The teacher plopped her wide bottom in my chair, I struggled to pump her weight up so I could reach her hair. She rubbed her eyes, her neck and groaned, "What a day with the little monsters. To make it worse, I had a hellufa hangover. No matter how many pills I popped, I couldn't stop the pounding and the little wretches were unbearable. I made them keep their heads on their desk most of the day..."

She was a second grade teacher. My son was in the second grade. Poor, poor teacher?

I'm sure you really hate to hear teachers trashed. I really hate to hear parents trashed...

Devonia said...

A class in Texas Hick anyone?

Re your: "....well, you see why me and St. Anthony are on a first name basis."

Your: At any rate, it all got me to thinking

"It all got me to thinking" A class in Texas Hick anyone?