Keep It Positive

It’s almost the end of the school year – the Little Miss brought home a note this week saying it will be the last week of homework and spelling practice, which was mind blowing and exciting and impossibly soon, all at once. At this time of year my thoughts turn to teacher gifts.

I am the queen of the gift card, but I also give each teacher a hand-written note, because I have read multiple times online that teachers really appreciate a personal note of thanks, and between you and me, I ROCK a good thank-you note. I find there is always something specifically positive to say and I’m quite happy to have the chance to let the kids’ teachers know how awesome they are. This year, for possibly the first time ever, one of my kids has a teacher who they are not exactly fond of, but even then, I think just getting up every morning to face a classroom full of kids is a heroic task, so I’m sure I will be able to find something cheerful to write about. Keep it positive, that’s kind of my life mantra.

Gal Smiley this year has one teacher, Mrs. P, who is legendary for her awesomeness. She’s super enthusiastic and energetic, and she’s a great teacher of the basics, too. Most of all, though, she really cares about the kids – she unfortunately missed a couple of months this year due to a medical issue and the day she came back, kid after kid literally came running out of the school shouting, “MRS P IS BACK” to their parents. Writing her thank-you note is going to be a breeze.

One of the things that makes her so great is that she personally emails the parents of kids in her class all the time. Just little notes, but always something positive. I often get, “Gal Smiley had a great day today! She is a delight to have in class!”, but sometimes more specific stuff, like “Gal Smiley did awesome on her math test! Yay!” or “Gal Smiley has really improved in her reading level, awesome!”. I know she is definitely looking to say something positive about every kid, but it’s still very sweet and reassuring to feel like hey, someone at the school NOTICED my child and CARED.

I got one of these emails this week, which was nice, and while I was riding that high, I had breakfast with a few of the other moms from the school, moms I know well and have known for years. We talked of many things, but one short conversation involved one particular boy who has had run-ins with a few of the kids represented at the breakfast, and, who, it seems, is getting a bit of a reputation as a bully. I know the family at an acquaintance level and they seem perfectly nice and so I was surprised, but I guess you just never know.

I’ve been turning over these two incidents in my mind, though, ever since, because I was wondering: do you think this boy’s parents actually know? I mean, do they know their son is rough sometimes, or hurts feelings with insults? Or do they just hear from him that he had a good day at school with his buddies (“cronies”, from other points of view), and then they get cheerful emails from the ever-positive Mrs. P that say he had a great! day and is doing awesome! – and that, for them is the end of the story?

Suddenly I had a good, long look at my own kids, and possibly for the first time ever I thought of them being thought about by third-party adults, not just their teachers, but the parents of their friends, and parents of their enemies. Have my kids ever been mean? Has another child gone home to their parent, complaining that one of my own called them a name, or excluded them from a game? Something my own kid considered a passing moment, not worth mentioning – or possibly worth hiding – and yet, such a big thing in the life of another?

Are my kids secret bullies? I mean, it’s possible, don’t you think? How much of their social interactions do you really know about? What kind of real, schoolyard reputations do your kids have?

I wonder. At first I was thinking, I wish someone would tell me. Then I thought, maybe I don’t want to know. Keep it positive, that’s my mantra. My kids are a delight! to have in class. Cling to that.

But as a parent, it’s kind of important to me not to raise any little jerks. So if my kids actually ARE jerks – yeah, fill me in.

4 thoughts on “Keep It Positive

  1. It is weird, isn’t it? Not to know, I mean. I’ve wondered if my daughter could be a Mean Popular Girl, or if she might be one later. I’ve wondered if my son might cross the line between affectionate teasing and Way Too Much teasing, as he sometimes does with his siblings at home. It’s odd thinking other parents might know something about my kids that I don’t know.

  2. You know, we had a circumstance wherein a “friend” of my son’s was kind of physically pushing him around, but doing it in kind of a way that it seemed like overly-boisterous play. It bothered me AND him. But he was his “friend” and I knew the kid’s mom and everything but my son told me he didn’t want me to say anything. He was very definite about me keeping out of it. So, I let it go, because sometimes you have to let the kids take care of things on their own. Finally, after a year of this, a teacher saw it happen in the hallway at school, and talked to my son, who admitted that it really bothered him. We’re talking things like “affectionately” tackling him, know what I mean? Anyway, the teacher contacted his mother, who was absolutely horrified that the “bully” word was being used. I still think I should have brought it up sooner, because by the time this happened the “friendship” such as it was, was ruined. But what do you do? I don’t know, it was a hard call. And I guess what I’m saying is that this woman had absolutely no clue, none at all, that her son was being unkind in any way. I would have wanted to know, and in hind sight, I should have said something.

  3. Claudette

    It’s interesting how you always manage to be exactly on the same wavelength as me at the same time. 🙂

    Just last week my husband discovered that a boy we’ve known since the JK days and whose family we know quite well has ‘quite a mouth’ on him, as he said. The short of it is that my husband and the two boys, our own kid and his friend, were commuting back from a baseball game far away, and the other boy started a hyper dialogue of how sucky the game was, how tired he was, how hungry he was, yada yada, and the f-word came out a couple of times.

    It was all fine, the boy was respectful once Ben’s dad told him that we don’t speak that way, but the interesting thing was, my husband didn’t mention it to the dad when he dropped the boy off. He’s different from me, because if the tables had turned, I would have liked to know if Ben had said or done something that was less than acceptable. But he didn’t find it necessary for whatever reason. And I wonder, do the boy’s parents even know that their kid swears like that in front of other kids’ parents?

    It makes you wonder, what happens when our kids are not with us? People are often quick to point out good manners and things like that, but would they also point out that ‘he got a little hyper, used a swear word, but it’s all good’ kind of thing?

    I just don’t know.

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