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When We Fail Our Children

Having just returned from our daughter Jane’s parent teacher conference, I’m trying to decide if writing about it is fair or not. This is her school, no? Sadly, although it is her school the conference is my failure. It’s not a small failure either, it’s my downfall as a mother, perhaps as a wife too.

I am completely and utterly disorganized. Not like, “ooh where did I put that” but more like, “Oh I’m so sorry we came to our parent teacher conference a day early.” To cap it all off, it’s not something I’m attempting to fix. I don’t feel broken, I just feel a little disheveled at times.

My daughter? She’s just like me. She’s smart enough to find the perfect tools to bury herself with. I’m standing in the shed, handing her a shovel. My husband, oh I can’t even talk about my husband because I’ve disappointed him so. Although opposites attract,the pendulum might be swinging too far on this issue.

My complete lack of organization has me not noticing Jane’s. Her
homework is a struggle because it doesn’t always come home. The
composition book has gone missing and I didn’t even notice. I can’t
help my daughter make her brain function in a straight line because I’m
hopelessly nonlinear. I spent Graduate School realizing that I’m
content juggling a few balls a time and embracing the zig zagging that
is rampant in my train of thought. I admit and recognize that I could
easily be labeled ADD, the problem is that my short attention span is
my best asset. ADD is not helpful when you have to teach your kids how
to study.

Jane isn’t failing in school. She’s not even getting C’s. Jane is getting some low B’s, and with another child it wouldn’t be alarming. It would be fine. Fine in this house, with this child, is just not good enough. Fine isn’t good enough, because we know from years prior that fine is the beginning of the slippery slope to not fine which quickly cascades into muck. Fine is the beginning of the end because our daughter is just like Mom. Watching our very gifted daughter be a fine student is a strain on our home.

You see fine means that I haven’t provided my daughter with study skills. Fine means that she’s not doing well on spelling tests, which is simple memorization. Fine means that Jane has too much time on the soccer field and not enough time at a desk. Did I mention that the only reason I bothered to show up to school was sports?

My husband is a hard worker, he’s the sort of guy who says to the first grade teacher, “So when it’s time to roll your sleeves up, how does our child do?” I sit quietly in the chair next to him trying not to guffaw. Do we roll up shirt sleeves when we’re seven? Does this remarkable man know that he’s married to the queen of the shortcuts? I gave birth in no small part so that I’d have playmates. When will they play if I have to stand over them and crack the whip for a study hour. I fight the urge to spray them all with a raspberry and scream, “Homework is stupid!”

How disappointed will my husband and children be when they realize that not only do I not work very hard, I’m unapologetic about it? Because fine, well, it’s worked out okay for me.