Monthly Archives: January 2012

If I Break Up With My Child’s School, Can We Still Be Friends?

You like me, you really like me!


Dear Outstanding Institute of Secondary Learning,

Hey! I’ve been meaning to write you for a few weeks now. I hope I can speak freely and honestly here. First of all let me say that I absolutely do not want you to feel under-appreciated. I think you’re great! Really. And I know you cost a lot of money, which I do not resent at all and which I know is going toward awesome teachers, top class facilities – like a student café that serves pesto paninis – a multicultural environment and really fantastic opportunities that are going to inform my EO’s learning in more ways than I can even articulate at this point. She loooooves school, seriously, and we really love the fact that it’s so easy to get her out of bed in the morning.

But, to be honest, it’s only been a few months – in a relationship that I’m hoping will last many years – and I think things are moving way too fast. In fact, I think we need to take a little break from each other. I know, I know, please don’t be offended. It was really great being able to take that tour last Spring and chat with students and attend an assembly where the orchestra played like professionals and the choir sang ‘Ave Maria’ and a young girl received an award for placing in the top five in the entire world in a literacy exam. You were super impressive. I also liked the snacks.

But then came the request to attend the afternoon ‘Laptop Induction’ which I found to be not only an obsequious thank you for the big commitment of purchasing an expensive but required laptop for my EO but also some kind of cheesy justification for spending all this money in the first place. EO enjoyed it (don’t we all love Power Point after all?), but for me it was like being invited over for dinner after I’ve pulled a back muscle helping you move house. And finding out that in fact you’ve just ordered take-out and the wine isn’t great. I’d rather be home watching Game of Thrones and actually spending time with my children.

Then we had to go to ‘Curriculum’ night where we got to see our EO’s tutor but not officially talk to him/her, and we were told that things are going great with those laptops (your money’s not going to waste, they’re not spending their computer time on House of Anubis and Angry Birds, honestly!). We learned how our children are going to be assessed and found out that eventually we’ll be able to follow their progress online, almost in real time, like tracking a hurricane or Angelina Jolie’s whereabouts. We were given full-colour brochures and more snacks, but by the end of the evening I felt that if I had to hear the phrase ‘learning in context’ one more time I was going to scream.

It’s not you, really. It’s me.

Next on the calendar was the actual ‘Meet the Tutor’ night, in which we sat around enjoying more snacks, sidestepping the responsibility of being Parent Rep and trying to think of incisive questions to ask our child’s tutor. But seeing as the kids had only been in school for four weeks we were kind of stumped. My EO’s very organized and enthusiastic. Her only issue has been the fact that her bus gets her to school very early, which we’ve solved by packing extra snacks (yogurt drinks!) for a sort of second breakfast. I thought I should have mentioned this to her tutor as a shining example of our adaptability, resourcefulness and affinity for healthy snacks, but quickly realized: I’m reaching here!

I have plenty of friends who are teachers, and I’ve heard that, more often than not, the kids they teach are great. It’s the parents who are the bears to deal with. So I’m wondering, and please don’t take this personally or anything but: are you trying to make us helicopter parents?

We receive weekly bulletins plus additional emails on specific topics or invitations to interactive talks like ‘Approaches to Learning Global Humanities for Years 7, 8, 9’. We’re invited to check the school website daily for an up-to-date briefing (I’m waiting for that link to Jolie’s Louis Vuitton blog btw). We’re welcome at swim galas and cross country meets and netball games. And we’ve got upcoming teacher conferences and monthly parent forums and seminars, where no doubt we’ll discover even more ways to obsess about our child’s progress and to help them learn in context. Go ahead, ask me what I know about Computer Based Adaptive Online testing, I dare ya!

Whew! Sweetheart, I love you, my child loves you, but frankly, you’re exhausting and if I can say so, kind of needy, kind of Sally Field here. If we’re going to have any future with this relationship, we’re going to need a little space. You should know that I’m part of a generation borne to parents with a high divorce rate, who couldn’t commit to much more than Friday night football and the Spring talent show. Trust me when I say I’m not going to get offended if I don’t hear from you in a while.

I appreciate you letting me speak freely here. I feel like I’m being completely insensitive, when in fact I really trust you and I do want this to work out! But I think I should also come clean and admit that I’ve come under the influence of a New York Times op-ed called “Super Person” about the rise of the over-overachievers and how we’re all sacrificing our children’s souls and our own identities as moms for the sake of Harvard admission. After spending time with this article, I’ve started having visions of destroying my daughter’s laptop, moving us all to Maine and teaching my children carpentry.

That would certainly inform their learning.

*This blog and the contents therein do not constitute any endorsement or overt (or covert) support of Angelina Jolie, Louis Vuitton and/or Johnny Depp’s dubious haircut in The Tourist.

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