Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Visit to Room 2

I'm convinced teachers have one of the most entertaining jobs in the world.

The other day Ethan's class invited parents to come in and hear some of the writing pieces they'd been working on. Wouldn't you know, Ethan was completely fine with this UNTIL we were walking down the street that morning and I was about to say goodbye.

"I don't want to do this. I don't want to read in front of everyone," he said, literally standing at the stoplight waiting to cross the street. Nothing like procrastinating about your fears.

"Ethan, it's okay. You're going to do great."

"My writing is awful! Ask her if this can just be optional!" Now he was really upset.

First, I straightened him out about his writing. It's not awful. Of course, as his parent, I wouldn't tell him straight out if it was, but Ethan writes surprisingly well. His teacher was really amused by some of his stories last year.

But that out of the way, I felt the conundrum again. I think every parent feels this. How do you know when you're pushing your kids too far? You don't want them to think saying "no" to difficult things is always an option. But you don't want them to be tormented with fear, either.

He had to cross the street, so I just called out something about emailing his teacher and tried to act upbeat to cheer him up. When I wrote to her, I said what I always end up saying: that we push Ethan to stretch himself sometimes, and will make accommodations for him, but it shouldn't be the first option.

She said she was fine with having him come up front and if he was still too nervous she would read with him standing next to him. That sounded like a good plan.

And so we arrived at 2:15. Chloe had christened herself with green glitter glue just before we left that would only partially come out of her face and hands. Lovely. We traipsed into the classroom and sat down to hear what was on the minds of 20 third graders.

I love, love, love this age. They are still too innocent to criticize each other's stories or to roll their eyes. They each wrote about a moment that was important to them: sleepovers, Six Flags, trips to visit relatives. I loved the kid who scored "30 touchdowns." He I believe was also the child who recounted the day his dad stepped on the gas instead of the brake and crashed into the car in front of them.

I wonder if his dad knew what he had chosen to write about? And this is when I think again of teachers, and of all of the stories they hear, the statements about home and parents and families that they must take in day in and day out...and try to mask their amusement, or perhaps shock. How much of what they are saying do you really believe, when you are an elementary school teacher? That thought provides a little comfort. I can only imagine...or don't wish to imagine the things my own child has blurted out. Sometimes I wonder -- do they look at us at parent-teacher conferences and think about us pressing the gas and not the brake? Do they constantly have to shake certain images or statements out of their heads? Have they just learned to laugh most things off because much of what a child may say is truth wrapped inside a whole lot of fiction?

One child shared in passing about how messy his mom's car was (as I've written about my own messy car in this very blog, you can bet I was thinking it was only chance that that wasn't my kid -- this time).

And somewhere in there was Ethan's story. He stood next to the teacher (wearing his coat! Of course he wouldn't answer when I asked why he still had it on; it was 80 degrees in there) and she began. He had decided to write about our cat getting run over.

Geesh. Nothing like a really morbid topic to end of the school day. I hoped no one would start crying.

I'm not surprised Ethan would choose to write about that day. It was obviously traumatic. Not only did he have a 104-degree fever but his cat got hit by an oil truck.

It's amazing the way I found myself editing internally as he was reading. He mentioned he was home sick and then that he went to the store before going to the doctor.

Wait, that implies he really wasn't THAT sick. Or does it imply I have no problem taking my child to stores when they are sick? Wait, we only went to the store to get medicine AFTER the doctor!

Then he talked about the moment I looked out and found our poor cat lying near the street. "And his eyes were OPEN!!!" he had written.

Eeth, you kind of left out the part that I thought he was sleeping, and then I noticed he wasn't blinking. But then again, that was even more creepy. God forbid the kids go home with nightmares.

He concluded it all with, "And we will never forget that fateful day." Which sounds an awfully lot like something he heard from somewhere. I couldn't help but almost start laughing, which sounds really awful when the kid just read about the day his cat died.

Then we all had some snacks and it was time to clear out of there as the end of the school day was fast approaching.

I left thinking, as I always do, that I don't know how teachers do it, day in and day out. I'd be so exhausted by the end of the day I probably wouldn't be able to do anything but meet my basic needs. But they also must have a wildly entertaining time of it sometimes. Maybe that's just a small part of what makes it all worth it.


Wendi Richert said...

I just love this. Ethan has a terrific teacher who encourages her kids choose their topics and share them in as a community of writers. <3 And yes, we do have the joy of hearing story after story after story from our students. And no, we don't believe all of them. ;)

Deenie said...

2 things - First, I do not want to imagine what things my kids have said at school. I'm sure there are some doozies. Second, I am SO glad you commented on my post so I could find you again. Instead of "following" some of the blogs I liked, I had them saved in my favorites. Then my computer died a few months ago and I lost all that info. I have missed reading along with you and your family. Now I am following.