My recent parent evening at my sons school, began with all said parents congregating in an ante room with a drink. Some take a glass of wine, the non drinkers amongst us opting for water, tea or coffee – whilst reading through a stack of our children’s school books.
Some books take ages to look through – as handwriting, spelling, targets, traffic lights etc. all need to be assessed and understood, before passing them to an ex wife who ignores comments or questions about the work…. I don’t drink, but already the wine was looking very tempting!!!
We were then called in to the classroom, where the real ordeal begins! I’m sat with an ex wife who has her own agenda. To begin, I know she wants to gloss over the impact of separation and divorce on our children’s school work….
You sit on small uncomfortable chairs, with your knees tucked under your ears, talking about your child’s performance at school, the good and the bad. You don’t know what is going to be said but you feel like you are being judged, your parenting skills and ability to help with homework all drawn into question.
You try to be probing, trying to find out where your child sits in their cohort. Are they near the top or the bottom – The best or worse – Liked or not liked – A loner, part of the group or a leader? And does it really matter!
Ten minutes allocated time with the class teacher, then back out sitting in the hall waiting for the next consultation. We smile benignly at other parents and make small talk, knowing that they are wondering about the seeing my ex and myself together, whilst body language makes it very evident that we really are NOT!
Again we get called in to see the next teacher and the process is repeated. We should both emerge informed and happy to plan how we support our children. Do we express concern at actions or support their effort? Reward or punish, motivate or discipline? This is normally the discussion you have on the way home in the car!
Do we have this crucial conversation? NO. It is a cold walk out, with a curt bye before being left standing in the school reception, wondering if my ex is truly engaging in co-parenting or just concerned about how the school see us.
Another parental duty done …. A chore or a pleasure?
My senses are heightened at the moment, as this was the first parents evening since my divorce, but I do feel that these events are done as a tick box exercise for the school, designed to suit teachers, rather than the needs of parents and their children.
Whatever the input from the teachers, I can only ask my children to do their best, and when they do, I am the proudest of Dads.