My wife and I each received the same email from my youngest daughter’s English teacher today. Teacher Conference sessions were approaching. Would we like a meeting? The short and simple answer is no.
Emails from teachers used to be a bad thing, particularly when concerning our eldest. Any classroom-originated communication was automatically cause for concern, usually an invitation for a meeting with the teacher, a couple of teachers, perhaps an administrator or two, and, what the heck, throw in a dean or a counselor or a principal or all the above. The more the merrier.
My wife would become a lioness protecting her cub. How dare anyone in the room think our boy was less than the gift God had bestowed upon all fortunate enough to gaze however briefly into his icy-blue eyes, eyes for which my grandfather was famous. I was usually no less than perplexed: at how and why all these resources of academic and administrative talent could be rallied and gathered, and; what was the big deal.
This was drama in the real world, unfolding around us as each teacher voiced issues concerning our son. Pressure mounted. My red ears would begin to glow, pulsing visibly.
Who was this kid we thought was our son? The drama peaked with my wife in tears, a few of the teachers red-faced and one of the assistant principals taking our boy into the next room for a quick and earnest–and from where his mother and I were sitting–an awkwardly private-but-brief one-on-one meeting.
At the end of the meeting everyone seemed to feel better. Interestingly, I don’t remember anything developing from that meeting, nothing good coming out of it other than a vague sense of “well, at least we’re trying” or that all involved seemed to be going through the motions as though to express such, for the sake of having it on record.
Of course, this was ten years ago. Things became much worse for our young son, our eldest child, before they got better. I’m comfortable crediting him with befriending sources of light somewhere along the way that guided him or illuminated signs toward alternatives that allowed him to make better decisions. His friends and teachers, particular individuals who know who they are probably made the most difference. He changed. His changes were age-appropriate, welcome, unexpected and wonderful. He brought great honor to his parents and family, his school and community. And he does still. And so do his sisters.
As for meeting with my youngest daughter’s English teacher… what’s there to meet about? Or, about what is there to meet? She’s got a ninety-seven average. What should I say to the teacher? Should I call a meeting of all of them, just for old time’s sake? “Hey, what gives with this grade average? What’s the matter with you? Is it our unstable home-life? You want to blame us for that other three percent? What, dear teacher, have you brought to the table to make up for it? Are you just not connecting with our daughter on some level that would shake loose that last three percent? What’s your problem?
Even bad memories become good memories. We look back fondly on difficulties that were because of the “were” part. They were and not are. And knowing this allows us to endure today and tomorrow because things awkward and unpleasant for the moment will soften through memory’s filter.