While I wouldn’t say that I was a teacher’s pet as a student, I certainly had teachers that I adored throughout my school career. I can only pinpoint a couple of teachers, here and there, who I didn’t have a good relationship with, but nothing that was a big deal, in the scheme of things.
So, why does talking to my kids’ teachers make me panic?
My daughters are in 1st and 4th grade this year, so we’ve been playing this game for a while now. Yet, every time I speak to their teachers about something school-related, I get so flustered. And sweaty. And I can’t seem to remember what I wanted to chat with them about in the first place. Or even which daughter I’m there to chat about. And do I call them by their first name? Or by their “teacher name?”
Oh, boy. It’s bad.
As much as I’ve always loved our kids’ teachers — I can’t even tell you how lucky we’ve been! — I admit that there’s something so intimate, and so scary, about sharing your child with someone else. My girls are with their teachers for the same amount of waking hours as they are with me, their mom, the woman who gave them life. And, at times, that takes my breath away.
When it comes down to it, I think that I worry that they don’t think I’m doing a good job. Or that they know when I helped too much on that tricky math problem. Or that they see through the fact that sometimes we skip reading time to snuggle up and watch a TV show together with the girls. I worry that, outside of my husband and me, these are the next closest relationships in my daughters’ lives, and that I’m not holding up my end of the stick. Or, the ruler, I should say.
School is, without a doubt, the most overwhelming, terrifying, thrilling part of parenting I’ve experienced. I feel like every single day is a make-it-or-break-it day. A day that either launches them a little bit closer to success and achievement… or a day that pulls them back, keeping their sneaker-clad feet stuck in the mud of learning. And, as heavy as that all feels each morning as they pop out of my car and onto the playground, the heaviest part is keeping how much it all scares me a secret from the girls.
So, every time I go to meet with one of my kids’ teachers, I take a deep breath and steel myself for what’s to come. I wear a sweater over my blouse so that they can’t see me sweat, literally, and I write down my questions, because teachers like people who come prepared, right? I remember their first name, but end up addressing them more properly, just in case. I try my best to not look so panicked… or at least a little less panicked than I feel inside.
But, despite my teacher-induced panic, I’m always greeted with warmth and reassuring words and reminders that the girls are doing okay. That they’re doing great. That we’re all doing great. I realize that while this is the most overwhelming part of parenthood, right now, that having our girls’ teachers on our team means that I can breathe.
And, slowly, slowly, my teacher panic subsides.