Later today, I’ll be attending my first parent-teacher conference.
As a kid, parent-teacher conference day was nerve-wracking. (“What is the teacher going to say about me? Am I going to get in trouble?”) Now that I’m the parent, it will be interesting to experience it from the other side. Or it will be when it matters. Right now, I don’t think it does.
Detective Munch is four. He’s in preschool. Unless he’s biting other children or spending all class in the corner doing science experiments, I don’t think there will be any major developments.
But there is one thing I’m dying to learn.
I lied above. This is actually my second parent-teacher conference. But I don’t really count the one he had last year, and I don’t even really count this one. Like I said, unless he’s skewing towards some extreme, i.e., pulling a Damien or going full The Sixth Sense (“Stuttering Stanley!”), this should be a pretty low-key chat with his teacher.
But at least I’ll find out what the kid actually does all day.
I don’t know about you, but finding out what my son does at school isn’t exactly easy lately. For one thing, I don’t think he does all that much. It’s preschool; half his day involves eating and sleeping. He might as well be a cat. For another, he doesn’t like to talk about whatever it is that he does. This early-onset teenagerism, in which he refuses to talk to his parents (unless it’s 6am), continues to be problematic.
When we ask him about his day, the best we typically get is that school was “boring,” he played superheroes (read: he pretends to be different superheroes, which is what he does all night at home), and his incorrigible classmate Xander got in trouble again! Lately, in an effort to drag something out of him, we’ve made it into a nightly game at the dinner table. Each of us has to share our “favorite part of the day”, one by one. It usually devolves into Detective Munch yelling at us for going out of order (“I make the rules: girls go first!”) before descending into total chaos. Detective Munch stops eating and I start yelling and Mom and Buried starts drinking.
But every once in a while? It actually works.
One glorious Monday night a few weeks ago, he told us he’d organized a game of The Never-ending Story (we’d just watched it over the weekend) at school. He played the part of Falcor (obviously), and (despite her desire to be a princess.), he made one of the girls in his class pretend to be the giant turtle. Which is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard! After he told that story, I had to change the answer I’d given at the table that night, since that story had obviously become my favorite part of the day (and of my life). Unfortunately, those kinds of stories are rare. Any kind of story is rare. We know something happens at school, he just doesn’t want to tell us.
We need a new source. Which is why I’m looking forward to tonight’s conversation with his teacher.
No, we’re not going to be learning a lot about his grades or whether he’s doing his homework or paying attention in class, but we should get a sense of what he does all day, and how he behaves, and who he interacts with. And unless I wiretap the kid or put a hidden camera in his lunch bag, these parent-teacher conferences are my best bet at gathering some information.
Hopefully his teacher is paying more attention, and proves more effusive, than he is. Hopefully he’s participating, and learning, and having fun, and making friends. Hopefully he’s not eating paste. And hopefully he’s not clamming up (or inventing this “Xander” character, Fight Club-style) just to hide his own bad behavior.
I’m bringing a flask just in case.