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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Conferences and cookies

A friend started a chat session with me on Facebook tonight.  She wanted to know if  week 3 was too soon for a conference with her child’s teacher. Am I helicoptering, she asked.

 

At first I misread her question. I thought the teacher had requested a conference, but no. My friend just wants to see how things are going and get to know her daughter’s teachers.

How wonderful is that. She wants to know her daughter’s teachers.

After all, children spend the better part of six hours a day with their teachers.  Wouldn’t it be good to know them a little better? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a good working relationship with your child’s teachers?

I explained to her that she has two ways to accomplish her goal.

1. Volunteer in the classroom.  Being in the classroom is a great way to see what your child is doing in school – how the day flows, the songs they sing, the work they do, who their friends are, etc. Knowing what they do also helps you ask more specific questions about your child’s day – Oh what was the silly message today? Being in the classroom also gives you a better understanding of the teacher’s personality, teaching style, and how they interact with the children. Plus, volunteering helps the teacher!

2. Contact the teacher and ask for a conference, but explain why you are asking for one. Teachers can jump to the defensive when asked for a conference so early in the year.  There is a reason we have the term helicopter parent. But if my friend explained, I just want to get to know you a little better and see how things are going – well, that’s a whole other ball of wax, a pleasant one too.

I told my friend – it’s not helicoptering, it’s building a relationship with your child’s teachers.

When parents and teachers work together amazing things can happen.  We all need to be on the same side because theoretically we are on the same side. We all want what is best for these children – whether we’re the parent or the teacher.

One last thing, I told her – bring cookies!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For more on Parent-Teacher relationships, here’s a great article on CNN.com by Ron Clark.

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One blustery but sunny afternoon this summer we made plans to go to a small beach that was easily accessible for my in-laws. The boys, my sister-in-law, and I arrived first. Our first warning should have been the ease with which we found a parking space. We hauled all our paraphernalia out onto the beach fighting against the wind that was quite fierce. We figured once we sat next to the beach club fence we’d be OK. No such luck.

The wind was coming from the north and the sand by the water was being blown straight at us. As my son said, it felt like millions of needles being thrown at us. After about 10 seconds of this torture we headed back to the car.

With only a few days left on the island, I was not willing to miss a day at the beach no matter how strong the wind blew. We had to be smart. We decided to go to the south side of the island figuring the dunes would protect us and we’d still be able to sit in the sand and face the water. That’s all I wanted. And to read my book of course.

We went to a public beach – one with a lifeguard and a concession stand. Normally, we avoid the public beaches because of the crowds but on this day there was almost no one at the beach due to the wind.

The four of us had the most amazing day. My sister-in-law took a much needed nap. The boys and I went for a glorious swim watched over by lifeguards.  The kids found a dead shark that had washed ashore.  And the best part was our walk. The boys and I walked on a beach we had never been to before.

Just beyond the public beach but before the beach where those with 4-wheel drive vehicles and oversand permits go was a stretch of beach covered in quahog shells and moon shells. Having never seen so many in one place we gathered as many as we could carry. We thought a jar of moon shells would be pretty. And one can never have too many quahog shells.

Back from our walk I settled into my chair to read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s (AML) Gift from the Sea. I was feeling her connection to the sea so strongly that day, which isn’t difficult since the ocean fills my soul like no other part of nature. And then I came upon her second chapter, Moon Shell. How appropriate after our discovery. Moon shells remind AML of solitude. She goes on to address the desperate need for quiet and solitude in a busy world – especially for women who are always giving of themselves to others in the day to day requirements of being a wife and mother. Her words are more than relevant 56 years later when so many women work outside of the home as well.

But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as “the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body so that it might be still as the axis of a revolving wheel is still (p. 45).”

The quest for quiet and solitude. Oh what joys they are when they are found. How difficult to squeeze them in amongst family life and teaching.

AML goes on to describe how modern conveniences freed up so much of a women’s time, yet eliminated time for contemplation and creativity which feed the soul.

Their very seclusion in the home gave them time alone. Many of their duties were conducive to a quiet contemplative drawing together of the self. They had more creative task to perform. Nothing feeds the center so much as creative work..(p.46).”

While I would never want to wash my clothes by hand and my lack of green thumbs precludes growing my own vegetables, I have found joy in baking my own bread or creating a quilt or scrapbook. Recently I have found writing this blog to be a contemplative and creative outlet. At least I had until this week.

I have started and stopped a bunch of posts this week without publishing one. I have been busy with school and my mind was not on writing but preparing for Thursday when students arrive. I know I need to keep writing. Writing provides time for quiet and contemplation, for clearing my head. I think writing will help keep me focused and centered when the demands of family life, teaching, and the boys’ after school activities take precedence.

Moon shell, who named you? Some intuitive woman I like to think. I shall give you another name-Island shell. I cannot live forever on my island. But I can take you back to my desk in Connecticut. You will sit there and fasten your single eye upon me. You will make me think, with your smooth circles winding inward to the tiny core, of the island I lived on for a few weeks. You will say to me “solitude.” You will remind me that I must try to be alone for part of each year, even a week or a few days; and for part of each day, even for an hour or a few minutes in order to keep my core, my center, my island-quality. You will remind me that unless I keep the island-quality intact somewhere within me, I will have little to give my husband, my children, my friends or the world at large (p. 51-52).

So like AML, I too will keep a moon shell on my desk. There it will sit to remind me of beautiful blustery day with my boys. It will remind me to find quiet and solitude even for a brief moment every day. And it will remind me to make time to write every day.

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Taking off

My older son was invited to meet a few friends at a place called Jump Street, an indoor trampoline park. He really wanted to go, so I said OK. His excitement stemmed from being invited to hang out with the “cool kids” from school. These kids were not the friends he normally hangs out with, but he has known them since Kindergarten.

I have to admit there was a little part of me that was scared they invited him as a joke. But that was my baggage and I folded it back up and tucked into a tiny corner.

I asked him which parent was staying. Jump Street is about 20-25 minutes away and they are only 11. They are going into sixth grade. I did not receive a definitive answer so I told him I was going to stay – I also didn’t want to make the drive all the way other there twice. He seemed OK with me staying but gave me the “Mom, don’t embarrass me” speech.

I could hear thup thup thup thup over head. Was I being a helicopter mom?

from daytodaywoman.com

My husband and I encourage responsibility in our boys – with homework, chores, etc. We will help with homework and projects, but we will not do for them what they can do for themselves. For example, I will show my sons how to type and edit a report on the computer, but I will not type or edit for them. I will make minor corrections and suggestions on a printed copy because those are teachable moments.

I want my boys to spread their wings and fly, but I also want them to be safe. This was the first summer I allowed the boys to swim at the pool up the street while I stayed home. According to the posted sign, they are technically old enough to be there without a parent. We’ve been going to this pool since they were babies. The lifeguards are great. The boys have their own cell phone. I am five minutes away. To me that is completely different than dropping my 11 year old off at a place all the way across town that I do not know. Yet these other parents, parents I’ve known for years, let their children go to this place unsupervised. Why did I insist upon staying?

I know why. Because the world scares me. There are too many stories in the news about kids being abducted or abused. There are bad people out there who prey on kids. And my son is still a kid. He’s 11.  And I love him to pieces.

I try to strike up a good balance – a not too hands on and not too hands off  – approach to parenting. But this is a whole new world of parenting for me. We don’t allow him to stay home alone yet, so why would I let him go to Jump Street without an adult? What do you think – am I being a helicopter mom? What would you have done in my situation?

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So I stayed out in the lobby on a comfy couch with free wifi. I popped my head into the big room once or twice and saw my baby having the time of his life. And for the record, I didn’t embarrass him. Not even one little bit.

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