She was a sore spot in my life. It all started with Kindergarten Open House. Our county had a morning “meet your teacher” moment where parents and children came to find out who their teacher would be and get used to seeing their classroom for the first time before school started the next day. The parent-only evening Open House would be held a few weeks later.
And I was horrified.
She was supposed to be the best teacher in Kindergarten. Other teachers’ children were on her roll. She had been a teacher in the building for several years but in another curriculum. This was her first year teaching 5-year-old students and I could tell already we were not going to have a good year.
This is how I saw it. I taught pre-school for my church’s kindergarten program for several years. These are the supplies that we as teachers and students used in our 4 and 5-year-old pre-school department: pencils, crayons, colored pencils, washable markers, regular markers, glue sticks, tape, pencil sharpener, pens, play dough, food coloring, sequins, glitter, stamp pads, sticky Velcro, dry markers, etc. which could all be used in science-art-writing-math-based lessons. Am I right?
So what does one wear to conduct all these tactile lessons? Well, certainly not hose, high heels, and a fancy dress. I don’t care if it is an open house. Come dressed as the teacher you want to personify…someone who came to teach. This was not the evening for parents. This was the children’s Open House. This was for the children to become comfortable in their new environment.
Again, I was alarmed.
Because, if it was going to be hose and high heels, we were in trouble. I wanted someone who was going to cuddle my snot-nosed child and make him feel good about himself. You know, someone nurturing who might sit on the floor and get dirty with these 5-year olds or someone who knew how to channel boys’ frolicsome behaviors. We needed someone who understood squirrelly boys who couldn’t sit still. And it wasn’t this teacher. I knew by her appearance, she wasn’t going to be a hands-on teacher. I just knew it!
Now I can say this. I am an only child. So, I get it. Having a female child is way different than boys. I am not saying easier, just different. And that was her background. She had an only daughter.
I received notes home about my youngest child’s antics almost every day: “Your child stepped on another boy’s shoelaces in the hall.” “Your son did not come back from the playground after recess fast enough.” But the real clincher was, “Your child placed his corn dog sticks up his nose at lunch.” Really?
As a high school teacher, what if I wrote a note home every day about some of my students’ behaviors? “Your 10th grader blew his nose too loudly causing disruption during the standardized test.” “Your child was flirting with another girl although he is going steady with Pat Ann, our future Homecoming Queen.” “Your 9th grader came to school with a hickey.”
My own mother, a former teacher for 37 years, commented, “Who has time to write a note home every day about one child? And who is watching those other children while this teacher is busy scrutinizing my grandson’s behavior?”
I finally wrote back to his teacher:
“Dear Mrs. Riggorous,
You pointed out our son’s behavior at lunch. I would like to put things in perspective. At least they were HIS corndog sticks and HIS nose.”
There were worse things in life.
P.S. And BTW, get an apron to wear over your fancy dress.