You know that moment at parents’ evening when you look up from your register and clock me sitting, waiting, trying to peer around the pushy parents stood directly in front of me who are determined to see you first (even though it’s not their time slot)?
In that moment that you ignore them, when you demonstrate a flicker of recognition and give me a brief smile and a nod to join you, I truly, madly, deeply love you…
I can’t speak for all parents. God knows I don’t understand most of them myself, but here’s the thing. You terrify me. You, who nurtures my child day-in, day-out, who never speaks to her the way I do, never makes the mistakes that I do. You are the person I can never be.
My child loves you, talks about you in reverential tones, takes your word over mine EVERY TIME, and accepts, without question, every morsel of knowledge that you feed her. Does that fact scare you as much as it does me?
On those infrequent occasions when we meet in the school hall, in those moments when you feel scrutinised, judged, opined upon, there are really only three things that I want from you:
- To know that you like my child. Really I could stop there because that’s all it boils down to. I want to know that my child is spending her days with someone who likes her and ensures that she knows it. Someone who’s building her confidence and making her smile and laugh, so that when she walks in the door at the end of the day, she brings the shadow of those feelings with her.
- To know that you care. Because I’m trusting you. I’m bookending her day the best I can with love and compassion, even when I’m reprimanding her, even when I’m shouting at her to finish her homework, or asking her why she never speaks to you the way she speaks to me. And I need to know that you are filling that time well.
- That you’ll be honest with me. In all things. And that you’ll help me find the answers.
Because, the thing is that what you do and what you say matters. It really, REALLY matters. I know the power you hold in your hands, and how much you can affect my child in such a short period of time and, when I sit opposite you and stare, deeply, into your eyes, I’m beseeching you to get it all right, and to make us all alright.
You might be thinking to yourself; “But what about, y’know, the whole ‘education’ bit?” I haven’t forgotten about that, and yes of course it’s important, but it’s not the clincher. Not yet. We’ve got years of secondary education ahead of us. Anonymous, confrontational, even aggressive at times, parents’ evenings where I will feel my cheeks flare and I’ll bite back the defensive retorts to the stinging comments.
I can wait for that…
I know how this stuff pans out, and, for now at least, I want her days to be filled with something that means so much more. You are her everything, and therefore, for now at least, you’re mine too.