Last night was parent’s evening for Eldest. It was the first one at his Senior school.
Historically parent’s evenings have involved me sitting in front of one teacher, usually at least ten minutes later than booked, hearing about the exploits of my off spring. Good or bad. All dressed up in euphemism. But lets be honest we all know what ‘lively enthusiasm’ means in relation to maths…
This was going to be a different affair. On offer was a five minute chat with each of Eldest’s fifteen teachers. Yep fifteen.. and that didn’t include any sports teachers. For whom a special appointment needed to be made. We didn’t bother.
Eldest was also expected to be present. And listen. I therefore needed to be mindful of what I said so as to strike a balance between finding out what I needed to find out and not embarrassing my 11 year old. As any owner of an 11 year old will know this is problematic. In the extreme.
Things had got off to a tricky start as it was beholden upon Eldest to book the appointments with these myriad teachers himself. I did try to provide some guidance. Such as leaving 5 minutes between each 5 minute appointment to ensure we did not end up with a cascade of lateness.
I also suggested he miss out some teachers. For instance Drama. It is not that I have anything against Drama. I am sure it is a lovely thing to do on a Monday afternoon. Week 2. But I wasn’t really sure I needed chapter and verse on his ability in that department. He can be quite a good actor at home. When lying about brushing his teeth or making sure his sister gets the blame for some atrocity involving Nerf guns. But I am not sure it translates into the Drama theatre. At school.
Anyway he dutifully organised slots. Including Drama. But not Philosophy. There is a ‘big’ question to explore later. ‘The Relevance of Drama versus Philosophy. Discuss’. He did have to book some consecutive slots which set me on edge a bit. Although we did get an early reprieve as his Geography teacher had not made it. The Sixth Former helping out was not privy to why.
So I arrived to collect my name badge. And map. Oh my life. A map. It dawned on me then that this was going to be an ‘operation’. I had a quick cup of tea by way of fortification.
I then entered the canteen and was confronted by a sea of desks and chairs. Maybe it could even have been classed as an ocean. Each desk had three chairs. On the parent side. I immediately felt inadequate about my lack of occupant for the third chair. Husband was busy earning money to pay for that chair.
I was early. Eldest was early. Its a trait. This helped us out. As it often does. Most of the desks where unoccupied by parents and also staff. An exception was his DT/Art teacher. The name sign on her desk proclaimed her to be a man. I didn’t comment. The world is such that one never should. Just in case. ‘She’ beckoned us over. And explained that as she teaches five Year 7 sets her night was a little ‘frantic’ and could she see us before official ‘kick off’. As Eldest had booked her later in the evening straight before IT I readily agreed.
She was lovely. No hint of a moustache.
And so the evening went on. At some point Middlest arrived from his Christmas Show rehearsal I think it was between History and Maths but I cannot be sure. He dashed off some grammar on a spare chair. And ate far too many biscuits. Luckily Youngest was at home with grandma.
Between Science and IT Mr/Mrs Art/DT popped over in a rare break in her schedule (presumably when we were originally to be seen, I had lost track) to ask why we had not pointed out the error in her name plate. I mumbled something incoherently and luckily she was distracted by her next interviewees arriving. I think I got away with it. Eldest hadn’t even noticed the sign was wrong. That’s 11 year olds for you. He of course knew her name. Me less so.
I have never been to a speed dating night. But I imagine it was quite similar. Some teachers had little passport photos of each child next to their name. I couldn’t blame them. Some seemed to see one set of parents after another with no break in between. For all three hours. They put me to shame. I couldn’t remember one Art/ DT teacher’s name I could hardly expect them to know all 120 of theirs.
I felt most sorry for his German teacher who not only had to remember who each child was but also what language he was teaching them. Poor man. I settled for his generic ‘working hard, doing well’. We are only in Week 9. It could have been worse. He could have used another generic ‘could try harder, needs to improve’. We spent two and a half minutes there. I used the left over time to bang home my point about spelling to Mr English.
Many other teachers clearly remembered Eldest, all for good reasons. Thankfully. Amazingly they kept to time. More or less. We nipped in early to several when they looked free. And then mysteriously we could not locate his French teacher. Je ne sais pas pourquoi. And so we got out a full ten minutes earlier than predicted.
Still it was two hours of full on diplomatic interaction. I was knackered. And more than slightly confused. I just held onto the overarching comments and placed the finer detail in the deleted file in my brain.
And I am glad we saw that Drama teacher. Unbeknown to me she has taught Eldest for all three of his years at the school, in both Junior and Senior, and she was very perceptive about him. She did really know him. And was almost glowing in her report. I found it all a bit over dramatic. Eldest grew about a foot taller though, so I will forgive her.