Monday, August 27, 2012

Slice of Life - Parent Night

Slice of Life is sponsored every Tuesday by Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers.

It’s less than twenty-four hours away and I’m already dreading it. As I’ve told everyone I know, give me a gym full of children anywhere from age four to eighteen, and I wouldn’t break a sweat. Give me twenty or so adults in my classroom and my voice quakes and my neck begins to resemble a thermometer as it gradually turns red. I sweat; my heart beats faster and faster, the whole time praying I can just make it through the night.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday) will be my thirteenth parent night. It has gotten easier over the years. I have found that having kids truly was a great equalizer. Also, growing closer in age – or older (!) – than the parents also helps. I have more practice at presenting too. But truly, it is never something I would do for fun. I stress about it, make plans, copy handouts, think it through, and pray it goes off without a hitch.

My favorite story of parent night is from twelve years ago, B.C. – before children. I, like many in my area, teach in a time warp of “no air conditioning”. How this is even remotely allowed I still don’t know. So, after school on that fateful parent night I raced into the house, threw down the M&Ms I purchased for the parents (bribes), tossed the gate across the dining room entrance so my dog wouldn’t get out, and ran upstairs to shower the day off. I quickly got ready and ran back down thirty minutes later to grab my candy and run out the door. I looked around, and around, and saw that there were no M&Ms to be found. What? Then, I thought for a minute. I had foolishly put the candy near the gate. My ever-hungry golden retriever, Bally, had apparently snaked her paw through the gate, pulled the M&Ms into the kitchen, carefully torn open the bags, and inhaled a pound and ½ of M&Ms. I might have said a few bad words at this point.

A quick call to the local vet informed me that I needed to get her to throw-up. I think I might have said something to the effect of You’ve got to be kidding me. Luckily, my younger brother, Ryan, was in town. He rushed over to my house with hydrogen peroxide, which Bally gleefully licked out of the spoon. We then stood back and watched her like a ticking time bomb, and boy did she go off! Ryan agreed to stay with the dog until Chris could get home and I hightailed it out of there to parent night.

Needless to say, that was one of my more entertaining evenings. I found that you can’t plan out everything, everyone loves a good story, and most parents want to know three things: you care about their kids, you will try your best, and you will get them out of your hot classroom as soon as possible. So I will try to keep this at the forefront of my mind as I meet the new parents on Tuesday night. I have seventy-one kids for reading this year. I have only fifteen minutes with each group to try and convey everything I’d like to say, as I shake like a leaf at the same time. And while I dread the presentation part of the evening, I truly enjoy meeting these parents, forming the partnerships with them, and beginning another wonderful year.