How to get through your first parents’ evening

First Parents’ Evening

He’s only four, he can’t have done much damage yet can he? Yet the mere idea of Parents’ Evening has immediately filled you with anxiety, not least, because you’re now the bleeding ‘parent’ in this scenario.

You can be a Teacher’s pet all you like … unfortunately that now means nothing.

They are now measuring your worth on what your precious first born has brought to the classroom and your guard is up straight away ready to prove he is a/ the perfect child b/ any bad aspects are purely from his Father and c/ any good qualities are down to outstanding mothering.

Your mind starts to race at what he has been up to when you haven’t been around: has he suffocated the class pet? Has he stolen someone’s free milk? Has he tied the teacher’s laces together.

 Or written ‘Mrs Smelly Bottom’ on the board?

As an ex teacher I understand the kiss-punch-kiss or compliment sandwich technique of feedback. So I sit on the tiny plastic seat hoping it doesn’t snap or get wedged entirely onto my arse and I await the results.

“He is doing great. He’s great with numbers. He’s got a fab memory.” O.k, there goes the kiss. I await the punch…

“He can get pretty angry, and he stamps his feet.” Obviously gets that from his father!

“He’s also overly tactile with other children when he gets excited and some of them don’t like it.” She finishes. We discuss boundaries.

He’s just full of love bless him. 

She finishes with lots of positives to finish her sandwich and I feel relieved. I also feel so grateful to the teacher who seems utterly wonderful and who I know from experience will be overworked and underpaid. I think about what nice gift to get her for the end of term. Box of wine should do it.

So – how do you survive?

Be prepared for the kiss-punch-kiss technique, don’t be overly defensive, remember they’re only four and be thankful they haven’t set fire to the class teddy, glued the numicons together or egged the Head teacher … yet.

First Ever Parents’ Evening

Why I wanted to walk with my son in the rain

Why I wanted to walk with my son in the rain

The rain was falling hard. Last week I excitedly picked up my four year old school boy child from his minder. The door opened, I saw his pocket sized face and all the work day’s crap melted away. “Come on darling!” I said “Now put on your coat, it’s really raining outside.” And it was – great big pelts of angry water thudding on top of my yellow mac.

“I’m going your way, I’ll give you a lift” the lady said. “No, no, that’s fine” I argued. ”

I insist” she squealed, half watching the rain wondering why I wouldn’t take her up on her kind rescue.

“No, really, no thanks.” I said seriously, and I led my son towards our special short cut in his matching yellow mac.

She is a lovely, kind lady. She’s a life saver. But I wasn’t going to let her take the walk in the rain with my son away from me.

What she can’t understand is what that walk means to me.

I work hours that mean I can’t take him to school, I can’t even pick him up from school – but I can pick him up from a childminder and walk home with him, whatever the weather.

This isn’t just a walk. This is when I have my precious boy all to myself, his attention purely on me. It’s a time I get to hear what he did at school, which is, granted, only usually ever “I can’t remember,” but that still matters.

It’s the time we get to take our own special short cut that only we know. It’s the time we get to stop and look at the leaves and their different shapes and colours, and even pick a few and stuff them in our macs like we are sharing an exciting secret.

It’s the time he can use expressions I have never heard before like ‘therefore’ or ‘terrific’ which results in me bursting into spontaneous laughter for the first time that day. It’s the time he can tell me his feelings in soft, safe quiet. It’s the time he can tell me my shoes are beautiful (out of nowhere) before asking me if that’s a nice thing to say, because he always wants to say nice things.

On our walk I can tell him he makes me happier than happy, and he can tell me he wants to always make everyone happy.

I can say a silent prayer, as the rain falls, that he will never change. Then we can get his younger brother from the nursery. Finally, the three of us are together, completely together. Nothing else matters.

God willing, when they are older, I’ll remember these precious gifts – these simple walks, hand in hand with my boys – the only things that matter in my entire world.

Our walk, our time together, is as precious as life. We might be sodden, we might be cold, we might slip and slide, but we can warm each other, keep each other grounded, and some days we might even get to share a rainbow.