Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Art of Parenting

Fin's parent teacher conference was this week. And to say that I was nervous would be an understatement. The main purpose of this meeting was to determine kindergarten readiness and we've already decided to hold Fin back so I really had no concerns there. (FYI for all my east-coast peeps, the CA school cut-off is Dec 2 and since Fin's birthday is Dec 1 it would make him literally the youngest in his class.) Being the good husband and father that he is, Brooks assured me that I had nothing to worry about and everything would go just fine. But then it hit me that this was for me what a performance review at work would be for him.

Parenting is much like trying to paint a beautiful piece of art. Blindfolded. And often with one hand behind your back. Or holding a screaming baby. Or changing a toddlers diaper. And going to a conference like this, having your child evaluated by a professional who likely gets to see a very different version of your child, is like taking that blindfold off. A brief glimpse of your progress so far. And if you're lucky, you look at your painting and are pleased to see that shapes and colors appear on paper much like they did in your head. And for a moment, you think maybe, maybe you can do this parenting gig after all.

Man are we lucky.

Sure, I heard that Fin needs to work on his lowercase "e's" (man, lowercase e is TOUGH!). But I also heard that he is a good friend, a good student, and a joy to have in the classroom. And really, that's all any parent wants to hear. That their child is nice and lovable and a joy to have around. We can work on his e's :)

Also much like that painting, there will be surprises. Here was mine.

Fin's teacher was telling me how funny he is at snack time with his routine. It's a longstanding joke that Fin is the slowest eater on the planet and will often come home with the majority of his snack untouched. It was no surprise to hear that his routine begins with eating whatever little chocolate treat I put in his snack (a plane, a soccer ball or if I'm out of little surprise chocolates, a Hershey kiss). Then, before he moves on to whatever else he has, he pulls a picture out of his lunchbox to share. A picture? I ask, not knowing that he even HAD a picture in there. Oh, I was sure you knew, we thought you were replacing it regularly since it stayed so nice despite the handling. No, I had no idea. Yes, he gets out the picture and passes it around. Every day. And every day we expect the other children to tell him that they don't want to see it again and yet every day they get just as excited as the day before. And the photo is passed around and shared and they all laugh before moving on to finishing their snack.

What picture? This one. It went to school last year for share day. And I had no idea where it had gone. Until yesterday.

And I delight in my painting and it's surprises, happy to put the blindfold on and get back to work.

P.S. I didn't mention this to Fin. I felt like talking about it might just dampen the magic a bit. So pretend I never told you ;)


Emily said...

What a sweet picture! I'm so glad the conference went well. But, he needs to work on his lowercase 'e' more *before* Kingergarten? Really? As the mother of a four-and-a-half-year-old who will start Kindergarten this fall, that makes me a little nervous.

Maggie said...

Emily, we had a readiness forum last week with local teachers and they were saying that five years ago they spent a week on each letter, the sound and printing it etc. and now because of the no child left behind act and having to meet the state standards they only spend the first WEEK on individual letters, after that it's all blending sounds and pre-reading! Kind of terrifying!