Take cover, it’s parent-teacher interview season

by

Parent-teacher interview time

There are many perplexing things about raising children, but surely the biggest is how they can possibly be so different to their parents.

We made them, we grew them, and yet here they are: a total, unsolvable mystery.

This is never brought home for me more than during parent-teacher interview season. Does anyone else dread it as much as I do?

Quick confession: I only dread it for one of my kids.

I get that a parent-teacher interview can be a thrilling reasonable time for parents of conscientious, smart, hard-working, capable kids. No issues here, folks, nothing to see. 

It’s life-affirming rather nice to sit there soaking in the sunshine of someone praising your kids. You nod and smile along, taking credit for every blessed moment. You want to reach over the desk and clutch that teacher’s hand and say, “All my own work. They get it from me. Thank you.”

And then there is the… other one.

Parent-teacher interview time highlights the worst in our teens

The kid who could not give a shit about school and has been known to drop those immortal lines of teens everywhere: “school is a construct created by a sick society to control the minds of teens.” Or something like that anyway, I tend to tune out when my kids mention trigger words like “construct”, “control” and “teens”.

This is the child who is capable, but not hard-working. Smart, but not conscientious. It’s a lethal combination during parent-teacher interview season.

“They could do so well, but…”

“The potential is there, but…”

“This person could be my top student, but…”

The teacher skirts around the plughole of what’s actually going on. You know what they really want to scream say.

“It’s okay, you can say it,” you prod.

“If only they could find the time…” the teacher begins.

“Not quite,” you interrupt gently.

“I’m trying to find what motivates…”

“Almost there.”

“HOW COULD YOU RAISE SUCH A LAZY-ASS INDIVIDUAL?!” they finally screech. The torrent is like the unplugging of the Warragamba Dam. “HAVE YOU SEEN THEIR BEARLY LEGIBLE WORK?! DO THEY EVEN OWN A PEN?! HAVE THEY EVER MET A HAIR BRUSH?! DOES THIS CHILD CARE ABOUT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THEMSELVES?!!!!”

Well, they don’t actually say or do anything of the sort, but you both know they’re thinking it.

“Please don’t yell at me,” you whisper into your chest. “I’ll do better, I promise.”

Trying to motivate the unmotived

The thing is, I have no idea how I managed to raise such a lazy-ass, good-for-nothing teenaged critter, yet here we are, cringing in front of the teacher as they flail about looking for a professional way to phrase the bleeding fuckin’ obvious. It’s okay – I know my child isn’t interested in school, won’t apply themselves, turns in work that even a mother can’t love and the only reason they haven’t already thrown their education in the bin is because that would require they lift their arm. I know.

“We’ve tried many things to up the care-factor,” you explain. “But it’s plain to see that without Moses, we can’t move the unmoveable.”

Hope: Why there’s hope for your “reluctant student”

Of course we try to talk to the reluctant student, from every angle, in every way. We try to put them in the driver’s seat and ask things like, “What do you need to feel more engaged at school?” (answer: “whatever”); and “How does it feel when you don’t get the mark you wanted?” (answer: “whatever”).

The utter frustration that comes from hearing the words “whatever” uttered 20 times a day. Followed by whatever’s best friends “nobody cares”, “I don’t care”, “why do you care?” and the extra-triggering “I could care less” (#iykyk).

Younger kids sulk when you try to talk to them about something they don’t want to talk about. Older teens explode into a full-blown frenzy at the merest sniff of criticism. Still, you’re an old hand at staying calm amidst the storm.

“I care because it matters,” you quietly say.

“Whatever, it doesn’t matter, nobody cares except you, I could care less.” Cue storming off and door slamming.

Couldn’t care less,” you tell the wall.

You also tell the wall how gut-wrenching it is to watch your kid throw their potential away. How overwhelming it is to parent a kid who dismisses your every utterance. And how stressful it is to not be able to see their future and know they’ll be okay. They’re not okay now, you tell the wall. Why would the future be any brighter when they won’t do a thing to change?

“They’ll change,” the wall says reassuringly. “Heaps of teens go through this stage and most of them come out of it just fine. It’s like a lightbulb goes off one day.”

I confess at this point that I’m waiting for that lightbulb to appear above my child’s head. DING! it will announce and I’ll race to watch my child magically transform before my very eyes.

“Aha!” they will cry. “Dear mother, why did you never tell me that an education is a privilege denied to so many, so I should treat it like the precious gem that it is? How could you never say that hard-work and determination are where satisfaction and contentment rest? What on earth were you thinking to bypass the critical goal-setting and achievement happiness chat? Mother – I can see the light!”

That’s definitely a thing that happens, right? I’ll be sure to ask the teacher at our next parent-teacher interview…

Feature image by Sigmund; girl on chair  by Laura Chouette; boy in window by Ben Collins

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than 10 years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

We’re very social

More for you

How to get early entry into university in Australia

How to get early entry into university in Australia

I wrote an article about different ways to get into uni without an ATAR and I've been asked by so many people how to get early entry into university in Australia other than NSW. I covered NSW in the original article because that's where we live and my son had already...

11 tips for Year 7 newbies from older high school kids

11 tips for Year 7 newbies from older high school kids

My youngest is starting high school in February, so I thought we'd gather some tips for Year 7 kids from older friends. It actually physically hurts me to write such a ridiculous sentence. How can all three of my babies be in actual big school? That makes me very......

Affiliate links

From time to time Mumlyfe uses affiliate links.  It means that Mumlyfe may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using the link.  You can find out more about how it works here.

You may also like

Related

How to put life on easy mode

How to put life on easy mode

The other day I was having such a chill, easy day despite doing all of my usual work and chores and workout activities — the phrase, “Life on Easy Mode” came to me. The rest of the week, I kept the question in my mind, “What would it be like to have life on easy...

How to get early entry into university in Australia

How to get early entry into university in Australia

I wrote an article about different ways to get into uni without an ATAR and I've been asked by so many people how to get early entry into university in Australia other than NSW. I covered NSW in the original article because that's where we live and my son had already...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This