If I’m going to continue down the path of candor (I did choose the name The Taboo Teacher for a reason, after all), then I think I’ll venture to the next topic that seems to rouse the most animated conversations in the staff room: parents.
Oh, parents. We are so grateful to you for engaging in the beautiful acts of procreation that guarantee our job security. We really are. And if you’re the kind of parent who offers their support, who makes their child do their homework, who writes emails only on an as-needed basis, and who sends in the odd box of Kleenex, then it’s quite possible that we love you. You make our job so much easier. But, not all parents seem to understand just what we’re trying to accomplish. They seem to have no clue what the point of it all is. The hard truth is that some of you parents are just kind of a pain in the ass. I’ll tell you why.
You encourage your kid to be an a-hole.
When your child does something that registers high on the a-hole scale, such as being offensive, disrupting everyone’s learning, or just having some sort of serious résistance to authority, we’re not letting you know because we’re bored. The thing is, we really don’t want to have to phone you at all, for any reason, ever. So if we’re doing it, something’s definitely up. We’re telling you so that you can host an intervention before your child becomes that person who leaves their grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot. We’re telling you because we care. When your response to our communications is to somehow blame us for your child’s behaviour, we not only suddenly understand why your kid is such an a-hole, but we also no longer have any leverage to help them overcome this life obstacle. Sometimes it’s hard for parents to have an objective view of their child’s personality, and maybe they truly don’t see the behaviours we’re noticing. But we wish you’d trust us when we’re telling you we’re seeing them. We wish you’d consider that maybe we know what we’re talking about, after having worked with literally hundreds of children. And at the very least, even if you don’t agree with us, don’t tell your child that you think we’re wrong. Then they just become even more of an a-hole, and we’re the ones stuck dealing with them for the majority of their waking hours. If your child thinks that you’re on their side whenever they commit tremendous acts of assholery, they’ll never respect our or anyone’s efforts to help them stop, so start saving your bail money.
You do your child’s homework for them.
That really grinds our gears. We get that you’re trying to be helpful, but, you’re not. In fact, you’re being whatever the exact opposite of helpful is, but unhelpful isn’t a strong enough word. When you do your child’s homework, all they learn is that they need their parents to do age-appropriate tasks for them. You’re essentially grooming a manchild. You’re going to end up doing their taxes and paying their rent until they are thirty-five. What I’m saying is we’re trying to help you out, here. The entire education system is based on the assumption that kids can be responsible for themselves, so if you’re doing their work for them, then you’re causing some serious interference. Furthermore, it makes it impossible for us to assess their true abilities, and what’s maybe worse, impossible to figure out how we can help them. And for the record, you’re not fooling us when your child brings back work in perfectly controlled handwriting, or sprinkled with four-syllable words, when they can barely underline a title on a good day. Let your child do their own work. Even if it’s shitty, at least it’s theirs.
You’re quick to criticize our decisions.
No non-teacher can fully understand what goes down when you put twenty-plus same aged children in a room and ask them to take on various challenges for six hours a day. It gets a little intense. Decisions have to be made, and sometimes they’re impulsive and maybe shortsighted. Many we regret because we can only understand the consequences in hindsight. We don’t really get to practice what we’re going to do when a student decides to fashion a turban and pretend to be al-Qaeda. So your accusatory emails based on whatever incredibly abstract version of reality was given to you by your ten-year-old are frustrating. It’s hard keeping it all together sometimes. Have you ever hosted a birthday party? Now picture doing that with twenty-odd children, except you don’t get to choose who’s coming. And you have to do it in a room full of hard furniture. And some of the kids are drunk for all you can tell. And at least one of them is going to be not so subtle about the fact that this is the shittiest birthday party they’ve ever been to. And, oh – you have to get them to simplify fractions. Did I mention that you’re doing this for six hours a day, every day? Before you host one of these parties, don’t be so quick to judge what teachers do to keep all the kids’ party hats on.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that there are lousy teachers out there who do deserve your snarky emails and passive aggressive agenda comments (“Dylan didn’t know about the quiz, it would have been nice if he had known)”, and teachers who do assign ridiculously tedious projects that they expect you to deal with at home. But even those teachers are just trying their best to survive the birthday party, and probably all they need are some friendly suggestions. Because, believe it or not, they usually just want your kid to have a good time.