Out of habit, I sit on the plastic chair, my back stiff, waiting for the news.
The news that she’s not doing something she ought to be doing at her age, the news that she paces back and forth—stemming, they’ll call it, the news that she melts down for no reason at all..
But I don’t get told any of that.
“She’s doing everything she’s supposed to,” the teacher explains. “Everyone wants to play with Natalie.”
I don’t realize I’m holding my breath and let it out slowly.
And then I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because when I was pregnant with her, I thought, please, please, I don’t think I can go through the constant worry all over again like I did with my son. I don’t think I can go through phone calls from the teacher almost daily.
And when I got a kid that didn’t appear to have any “delays” any “issues” I was relieved.
That’s when the guilt started.
Is it bad that I almost dread going to Tommy’s conferences because I know I’ll be told that he’s not doing something that he should?
This time it was the fact that he’s at a first grade reading level. First grade. He’s in fourth grade. The teacher slid the results over to me and I chewed my lip as I took in the low number.
The issue is reading comprehension. He knows how to read but answering questions about what he reads is a struggle. Hence the low score. He also doesn’t get that when he’s asked, “What would happen if such and such happened in the story?” that he actually has to write something other than “I don’t know.” That’s what he does now. Then he’s like, “Why is that wrong? I answered the question!”
He gets extra help in reading but his score still isn’t coming up as much.
His grades are As and Bs though so the teacher tells me not to worry but how can I not?
“Is it wrong that I dread going to Tommy’s conferences and am thrilled going to Natalie’s because I know she’s going to be praised?” I asked Tom. “Does that make me a bad mom?”
Tom shook his head. “No.”
I got a workbook on reading comprehension to work with Tommy. It’s not always easy. Sometimes Tommy will toss his pencil down, place a hand on either side of his head and squeeze. “I hate this,” he’ll grumble. “This hurts my head.”
“But,” I will say, handing him his pencil. “This helps. Don’t you want to improve?”
Tommy, who doesn’t like to fail, nodded slowly.
But I know Tommy will get it. And even though I’m told about struggles that he goes through at teacher conferences, I’m also frequently told that he’s a polite, great kid.
And, you know, in a world filled with people who seem to have forgotten manners, that’s a feat in itself.
I’m linking up with Shell, over at Things You Can’t Say.