Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Parent-Teacher Conference From the Other Side of the Desk

Last night I had my first Parent-Teacher conference as a parent. It was very strange. As a teacher, these conferences always made me nervous. The parents I really needed to see rarely came, and those who did mostly seemed concerned that I wasn't doing enough for their children. How do you meet the needs of every student when you see 80+ kids per day?

As a parent, sitting with William's teacher was both affirming and disconcerting. William is a kind and caring child, so I was confident that behavior and personality would not be issues. He's happy in school and right on track, so I knew academics would not be concerns either. My biggest concern was in fact, his teacher's concern. I have a kid who hates to make mistakes, puts too much pressure on himself to get everything right, and just wants to be downright perfect. Drat! The one character trait I desperately wanted him not to have, he displays in spades.

Okay, I'll admit to being a perfectionist (see profile). My dissertation advisor called me ABC (A Bit Compulsive). I thought for sure that having a child would force me to change in ways unforeseen, but sadly, this was not one of them. I should have known when at age 2 he lined up all the refrigerator magnets in nice neat rows that I had given birth to a clone. My brother tormented me as a child by rearranging the pushpins on my bulletin board so that the colors didn't match, and turning my pictures askew, so it seems reasonable, though unfortunate, that William has inherited my tendency towards this particular compulsion.

I was thrilled with the fantastic report I received from William's teacher, but found myself wondering on the drive home, how do I fix this? How do I teach him it's okay to make mistakes, that everyone does, and that this is really what learning is all about? I'm not sure, but when I find out, I'll let you know.

1 comment:

  1. I think there should be a new category besides perfectionists and - well - everyone else who can take life in stride... How about the failed, disillusioned perfectionist? That's where I am, anyway! The only advice I can give is that, chances are, your son will be a hard working student all through school, so when it comes time to have serious homework, make him schedule in time to relax and have fun. Nobody taught me that, and I still hardly know how to do it.